Target: Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain
Goal: Release an activist and her toddler, who are set to spend over a year in jail.
Zainab Al-Khawaja, a Bahraini activist whose activities have gotten her in trouble with authorities in the past, has been arrested and sentenced to one year and four months in jail. The government granted her request to keep her young son with her, and now both mother and child are confined to a prison cell. Sign the petition and demand their immediate release.
Al-Khawaja was charged with “insulting a public official” after speaking out against abuses she witnessed against other prisoners while serving a prison sentence, and “destroying public property” after she ripped up pictures of the king that had been hanging in the Ministry of the Interior offices. She was arrested after government vehicles blocked off her entire street.
After her arrest, Al-Khawaja and her son were taken to the police station, where Al-Khawaja held her son for hours, exacerbating pain from a recent leg surgery. Since her arrest she has received two injections to help alleviate muscle pain in her back, and she has been wearing a back brace as well. Her relatives believe that these medical conditions are the result of her holding her son for such a significant length of time.
Prison is no place for a young child, but it is also no place for a prisoner of conscience, a woman whose only “crimes” involved speaking out against the injustices she witnessed before her. Sign the petition and demand that Zainab Al-Khawaja and her son be released from prison immediately.
I am writing to express my deep concern over the treatment of Zainab Al-Khawaja and her 15-month-old son, both of whom are set to spend nearly a year and a half in prison. Prison is no place for a young child, but it is also no place for a woman whose only “crime” has been speaking out against injustice. I urge you to release both mother and son immediately and ensure that, in the meantime, they are both kept safe and healthy.
Al-Khawaja was arrested on charges of insulting a public official after she spoke out against injustices she witnessed while previously in prison. She was also given a shorter sentence for ripping up pictures of the king that were hanging at the Ministry of the Interior. She has been granted permission to keep her young son with her for the duration of her prison sentence. However, neither mother nor son deserves this fate. Al-Khawaja is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for exercising her internationally-recognized human right to freedom of speech, and her son is of course completely innocent.
In addition to the injustice of simply serving a prison sentence when she has done nothing wrong, Al-Khawaja has been dealing with instances of ill health, most likely brought on by her recent leg surgery. Her medical condition was further exacerbated when she was obliged to carry her son for hours at the police station following her arrest. She has since received two injections for back pain while in prison and has to wear a back brace.
I urge you to do the right thing and ensure that justice is done. Release Al-Khawaja and her son from prison as quickly as possible, and in the meantime ensure that they are protected from all instances of torture and ill-treatment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Connor McCabe