In Bahrain the past month has been marred with travel bans, attacks on opposition figures, arrests, and exiles. As the country returns to levels of repression not seen since 2011, it is important not only to focus on the latest offenses, but also to remember the many injustices absent from the headlines. Five years ago today leading human rights defender, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, was sentenced to life in prison by a Bahraini court after a grossly unfair military trial.
Beginning with protests in 1979 at university in London, Al Khawaja has pushed for democracy in Bahrain his entire adult life. After receiving political asylum in Denmark, he established the Bahrain Human Rights Organization (BHRO). In 2001, Bahrain granted general amnesty for exiles and Al Khawaja returned to the island nation with his family. One year later, he co-founded the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR). In the years leading up to the 2011 protests, Al Khawaja was detained, assaulted, and convicted multiple times in unfair trials for his human rights activism.
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