AlKhawaja: Imprisoned since 2011 in Bahrain yet a human rights symbol around the world

Abdul-Hadi AlKhawaja, Bahraini human rights defender still-imprisoned for 11 years now, receives the Martin Ennals Award 2022 in Geneva yesterday

Martin Ennals Awards said on their website in January of this year that three driving forces of the human rights movement are the Laureates of its 2022 award for Human Rights Defenders.

“In Vietnam, Pham Doan Trang, a prominent journalist, fought for freedom of speech and civil rights before being convicted to nine years in prison. In Burkina Faso, Dr. Daouda Diallo fearlessly documents human rights abuses committed in the wake of widespread violence between armed forces and Islamist insurgents fighting for control over his country. In Bahrain, Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja ignited the quest for democratic and social reform and has sustained his dedication to human rights during eleven long years in prison”.

The awarding foundation continued: “Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja is a charismatic architect of Bahrain’s human rights movement and a leader of the 2011 protests calling for democracy and greater freedom in the Gulf region. Al- Khawaja is not only an activist, but also a social entrepreneur who founded some of the first human rights research and defense organizations in the region, which still exist today. He inspires future generations in Bahrain to continue to fight despite his now decade-long imprisonment”.

The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is a unique collaboration among ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations with the aim of  providing protection to human rights defenders worldwide.

AlKhawaja’ wife and daughter attended the ceremony in Geneva yesterday, 2 June, and received the award on his behalf. Al-Khawaja -61 years old- is the co-founder of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), which the Martin Ennals Foundation says “is the first of its kind in the MENA region igniting a powerful culture of resistance against authoritarian governments”. AlKhawaja wished for the award to be used to help shed light on forgotten prisoners imprisoned for defending human rights and demanding democracy.

Watch the entire ceremony here.