Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Bahraini hunger striker on verge of coma

Published Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jailed prominent Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is in a critical condition and on the verge of lapsing into a coma after 55 days of a hunger strike, his daughter said in a statement on Tuesday.

"He had two doctors accompanying him at all times last night, and today he is being moved to the fort prison due to lack of the necessary medical equipment in the central Jaw prison," Maryam al-Khawaja said.

"This is due to fears that he may go into a coma at any time, as his blood sugar and blood pressure have both further dropped."

Abdulhadi, also a Danish citizen and founder of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, was sentenced to life in prison in June 2011 for organizing peaceful protests calling for democratic reform in Bahrain.
His imprisonment continues despite a recommendation by a government-established commission in November that all political prisoners be released unconditionally.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has urged authorities to release al-Khawaja "on humanitarian grounds as his life is in serious danger, and getting to a situation where there might be an unrepairable damage to his physical well-being, if he survives."

Amnesty International added to the chorus of condemnation of al-Khawaja's detention, demanding Manama immediately release the leading activist.

"The continued imprisonment of al-Khawaja demonstrates that the Bahraini authorities are not serious about fulfilling their promises to release people imprisoned for exercising their right to free speech," Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director, said last week.

Bahrain has witnessed more than a year of unrest with mass protests demanding democratic reform.
Bahrain's government has avoided much international scrutiny due to its privileged position as a strategic ally of the United States, which bases its Fifth Fleet in the tiny Gulf state.

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