Thursday, December 15, 2011

URGENT APPEAL: Zainab AlKhawaja beaten, dragged and arrested (#FreeZainab #Bahrain)

Originally posted by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights at

16 Dec 2011 , Last Update 02:09
We writing to you regarding the arrest and physical violence and ill-treamtment practiced against human rights defender Zainab AlKhawaj and to call for your immediate action to guarantee her release and protection from further physical violence. We are deeply concerned about her safety after seeing the violence she was subject to during arrest.
Today Bahraini security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters attempting to protest alongside a highway leading to the island kingdom’s capital (more details). Zainab Alkhawaja, 27, a human rights activist, has participated in this peaceful protest. She staged a sit-in on a roundabout with several women. The riot police have responded with shooting tear gas canister on the women where all of them left the place except Zainab. She continued her sit-in peacefully to exercise her right to freedom of expression in accordance to the declaration of the Human Rights. The police again shot tear gas canister, this time directly on Zainab video.
The female police came toward Zainab and handcuffed her. As seen on recorded video and the attached photos, Zainab has been slapped and hit on the face, dragged from the handcuff itself on ground all the way through to the pavement then to the street, she had her Muslim head scarf removed from her head. It's very worrying the way she was ill-treated in public.

She, as well as another woman Ms Masooma alSayed were then taken to the police station and referred to the general prosecution "for taking part & calling for illegal gathering & one of them attacked public security female employee near Busaiba" as MOI said in a statement. The available videos clearly show no kind of physical assaults practiced by Zainab.
At the general prosecution, Zainab told the lawyer that the female officer "took my scarf off and tied it around my mouth to stop me from speaking". Lawyer Zahra Masood who is with zainab Alkhawaja in the general prosecution, said that zainb looks tired & hardly opens her eye. She said there were red marks around her wrists due to the handcuffs. She is still there (since around 9pm Bahrain time) as we write these words.
Zainab is mother of 1 year old child. Her husband, father and uncle are all in jail. He father is the prominent Human Rights activist AbdulHadi AlKhawaja, a former Regional Protection coordinator for the Middle East with Front Line and former President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). He is now in jail and sentenced to life be military court for taking part in the Feb 14 protest. Her husband Wafi AlMajed, was arrested along with her father and is now sentenced to 4 years in jail also by a military court.
Zainab has been targeted before, arrested from inside Bahrain UN house in June 2011 and before that she summoned for interrogation at the police station.
See this video where Zainab talks about her activism, family, human rights, Abdulhadi and the difficulties of struggling for human rights in Bahrain: More information about her below.
We call you to take immediate action to guarantee the release of Zainab AlKhwaja and her fellow who were arrested and assaulted for merely exercising her right to freedom of expression and assembly in accordance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Please take every action in your hand to call for her release and protection from further targeting and ill-treatment. The officers responsible for the seen violence against AlKhawja can be easily identified and should be taken accountable for he clear assaults they have committed.

More about Zainab AlKhawaja

Zainab has been very active on twitter during the Feb-March protests under the name of @angryarabiya as she was posting news and reporters directly from the ground to her twitter page. After the crackdown on protesters last March, multiple members of her family were arrested, including her husband, uncle, brother-in-law and her Father Abdulhadi Alkhawaja on 9 April , who is a prominent Human Right defender in Bahrain, a former Regional Protection coordinator for the Middle East with Front Line and former President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR).
Zainab, as a witness on the brutal arrest of her family members has exposed to international media how her father was aggressively beating:
In April 2011, She sent an open letter to Obama and started a hunger Strike that lasted for 10 days and gained international awareness and was the first of a long chin of hunger strikes in support to the Bahraini people.

More photos from today:

After being tear gassed

Archive Photo - taken few weeks ago during a protest

Archive photo, with her daughter


Please also watch the video of Zainab Abdel Hadi Khawaja's arrest while peacefully protesting. Zainab is an incredibly strong and dedicated woman, mother, wife, daughter and Bahraini human rights activist. Her father, uncle and husband are also human rights workers and activists and are also currently in jail. Please do whatever you can to help get Zainab and her family freed!

On Twitter the hashtag is #FreeZainab and her twitter name is @angryababiya. Please tweet on her behalf...on behalf of freedom and democracy for #Bahrain!  Every bit helps! Please do what you can!

Unfortunately Blogger is not currently cooperating with me posting this video. But the title is

اعتقال زينب الخواجه بطريقه وحشيه - البحرين المحتله

and you can watch it at

~ Sofia Smith

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