Bahrain activist moved to hospital after hunger strike

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By Firouz Sedarat /Reuters

DUBAI: A jailed Bahraini activist who has been on hunger strike for 58 days was moved to a hospital and fed intravenously on Friday after his health deteriorated sharply, his lawyer said.

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is one of 14 men in prison for leading a pro-democracy uprising in Bahrain last year as a wave of uprisings known as the Arab Apring swept through the region.

On Wednesday, the Information Affairs Authority said Al-Khawaja had been moved to a clinic after losing 10 kg (22 pounds).

Al-Khawaja’s lawyer said the activist, who is serving a life term, had now been moved to a military hospital.

“Mr Al-Khawaja has been moved to a military hospital which is more equipped that the Interior Ministry clinic where he was earlier,” lawyer Mohamed Al-Jishi told Reuters by telephone.

“His condition has worsened … his blood pressure is down, and he is getting an IV (intravenous) drip.”

There was no immediate report on state media about the hospital transfer.
His daughter, rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, was detained during a protest on Thursday in front of the Interior Ministry.

Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty say Al-Khawaja, who also has Danish nationality, and the other men are prisoners of conscience and should be released. An appeal hearing into his jail sentence began this week.

Several activists expressed concern in posts on the social media website Twitter about Al-Khawaja after he was taken to a military hospital for one day last week.

Bahrain has been in turmoil for a year with regular opposition party rallies and clashes between riot police and youths in Shia districts involving tear gas and petrol bombs.

Almost daily protests are also held against Bahrain’s hosting of the Formula One Grand Prix on April 20-22.

Former world champion Damon Hill has called on Formula 1 bosses to reconsider going ahead with the plan and warned the sport’s image could suffer otherwise.

Al-Khawaja’s family have identified him as case no. 8 in abuse recounted by unnamed detainees in the November report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which Manama formed after international pressure to investigate the unrest.

The detainee underwent surgery on his jaw after he was beaten up on arrest on April 8. The account says that abuse resumed eight days later, including beatings on the soles of his feet and being sodomized with a stick.

The report says the detainee went on hunger strike at that time in an effort to stop the torture.

Bahrain’s government has acknowledged the report’s finding that some detainees died under torture, but says it is implementing reforms of its security forces and detention facilities that will prevent future abuses.



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