Bahrain’s abysmal human rights track record

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SHAFAQNA – Index on Censorship shed light on the stories of three prominent Bahraini human rights campaigners whose families have been jailed and harassed by the Manama regime.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, who chairs the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), had his citizenship revoked in 2015. He was jailed repeatedly throughout 2011 in Bahrain before managing to secure asylum in Britain in 2012.

But most of his family still resides in their home country where one can end up in jail simply for being guilty by association.

Manama’s security services have jailed a number of Alwadaei’s family members over the years including his sister and mother-in-law.

“The oppression or torture aims to do one thing: to break your will because you’re not ready for the consequences,” Alwadaei told Index. “This is the state they want to leave you in. They want you to be broken and this is why we keep going.”

In October 2016, Alwadaei’s wife and infant son were held at Manama’s airport as they attempted to travel to the UK.

His wife was arrested, held overnight, and subjected to ill-treatment.

It took several months before they were finally allowed to leave the country and join Alwadaei.

Meanwhile, the family of the former president and co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, endured their share of hardship.

Al-Khawaja was sentenced to life in prison following the brutal suppression of Bahrain’s pro-democracy protests in 2011. His daughter, Maryam Al-Khawaja, was charged for her activism and forced to leave Bahrain to avoid a prison sentence. She hasn’t seen her father since 2014.

One of her sisters, who had Bahrain’s highest scores in nursing school, has been unemployed for nearly 8 years as the authorities continue to withhold the necessary paperwork granting her the right to work.

Their mother was also fired from her private school teaching job where she worked as the head guidance counselor.

The family of Nabeel Rajab, who was recently sentenced to two years in prison for talking to journalists, is suffering from similar forms of harassment. His wife was also fired from her job due to her husband’s rights work.

His son and daughter have also faced harassment in school.

“I find it difficult to enjoy anything while he is locked up in a cell and deprived of life, but as he taught me, the spirit is always up,” Rajab’s son Adam told Index.

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