Target: Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain
Goal: Release jailed activist only guilty of ripping up a picture of the King of Bahrain.
Over a year ago, activist Zainab Al-Khawaja was charged with “insulting the king” after she ripped up a picture of him while in court for a separate charge. She was sentenced to three years in prison. Her sentence was recently reduced upon appeal to one year in prison and a fine of about $8,000 but, if she refuses to pay her fine, the charge will be extended by another year and a half. Sign the petition and tell the King of Bahrain to drop all the charges against Zainab Al-Khawaja and release her immediately.
In addition to this case, Al-Khawaja has been charged with a number of crimes that infringe upon her right to expression and free speech. She was also charged with “insulting a public official” and “entering a prohibited area” after attempting to visit her hunger-striking father in prison. Despite the fact that she was seven months pregnant at the time, she was held down on the ground, handcuffed, and jailed. Officials present at her arrest reportedly told Al-Khawaja that they were not responsible for the health of her or her baby.
Zainab Al-Khawaja is a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for expressing her universally-recognized right to freedom of expression. She must be released immediately and the charges against her must be dropped. Sign the petition and tell the King of Bahrain that you stand with Zainab Al-Khawaja in the face of human rights violations.
Dear King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa,
I am writing to demand the immediate release of activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, who has spent the past year in prison as a result of Bahrain’s unnecessarily restrictive laws governing freedom of expression. She faces up to another 18 months in prison if she refuses to pay a fine for ripping up a picture of the king, a sentence that violates her right to free speech. I demand that she be released immediately and that the unfair charges against her be dropped.
Al-Khawaja is no stranger to ridiculous arrest for freedom of expression. She has been charged with “insulting a public official” and “entering a prohibited area” following her attempt to visit her hunger-striking father in prison. She maintains that the charges are unjust and false and, during her arrest, she was held down on the ground and handcuffed despite being seven months pregnant. Officials at the scene allegedly told her that they were not responsible for the health and well-being of either her or her baby.
Al-Khawaja has already stated that if she is jailed for 18 more months, she will keep her infant son with her as she serves her sentence. Despite the protests of Al-Khawaja’s arresting officers, Bahrain is responsible for the lives of two of its citizens. There is only one clear, just course of action: release Zainab Al-Khawaja and drop the unfair charges against her.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Prachatai