Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Bahrain government denies claims over hunger strikers

Rights organisation claims two jailed activists on hunger strike are also refusing fluids to protest being denied visits from their families.

ABU DHABI // Two jailed activists on hunger strike in Bahrain are also refusing fluids in protest at being denied visits from their family, a rights organisation said on Monday.

But the Bahraini government said Zainab Al Khawaja was accepting fluids and denied that her father, leading Shi'ite activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, was on any form of hunger strike.

Bahrain, the base for the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, has been in turmoil since 2011, when majority Shi'ite Muslims intensified demands for an end to the Sunni monarchy's political domination and for full powers for parliament.

Zainab Al Khawaja was sentenced to three months in jail this month, accused of insulting a public official, after an appeal court overturned her earlier acquittal.

She has been on hunger strike since March 17 and began refusing fluids on Sunday, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said in an e-mailed press release. It said her father, who is serving a life sentence for his role in the 2011 uprising, was also on hunger strike.

"Both Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and his daughter Zainab Al Khawaja were denied family visits for the second time this weekend, prompting them to start a dry hunger strike (on) 24 March," the centre said in the statement.

The Bahraini government said only Zainab was on hunger strike, which she began on March 18. "But she is taking all kinds of fluid," Sameera Rajab, Bahrain's information minister, told Reuters by telephone from Manama.

"She is in good health and is receiving 24-hour health care. Her father is not on hunger strike," Rajab said, adding the pair had been denied family visits because they refused to wear the prison uniform.

"They break the rules and then they go on hunger strike," she said.

The human rights centre said some detainees, among them Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, had until recently not been required to wear the uniform and that enforcing the rule was "a new tool used to humiliate prisoners of conscience and identify them as criminal prisoners".

Bahrain's opposition and government resumed reconciliation talks last month for the first time since July 2011, but little progress has been reported in several sessions of negotiations.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen. AFP Photo

The inner workings of Gulen’s ‘parallel state’

Fethullah Gulen's followers are accused of trying to push Turkey's prime minister from power.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National