Maryam al-Khawaja Banned from Flight to Bahrain

Photo Credit: BCHR

Prominent Bahraini activist Maryam al-Khawaja was prevented from boarding a plane to Bahrain. “We are required to comply with requests from individual government authorities,” said a spokesperson for British Airways. Officials in Bahrain could not be reached for comment.

“I had the flight this morning from Copenhagen and everything was fine. I did the online check-in yesterday,” she said. “I was blocked at the boarding and told to check with the counter because there was a problem. The lady called the office in London who told her that there was a denied boarding message as a decision from Bahrain government.” She added, “If  British Airways has agreed to a ban, they have to give you a reason for that. The lady at the counter, instead, said it was not mentioned in the system and she did not know.” Al-Khawaja has put in a request for information and has said that she would consult a lawyer if she did not receive a timely response. The move by the Bahraini government is very telling, says al-Khawaja, “They don’t want people reporting on what is happening on the ground.”

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights, of which al-Khawaja is acting president, has condemned the ban and said that they find “this most recent act by the Bahraini Government very worrying as it is clear that it wants no witnesses to its current and anticipated future violations.”

The news of al-Khawaja’s flight ban comes as Britain agrees to sell $1.55 billion worth of Typhoon jets to the Gulf kingdom despite its human rights record. A statement from Downing Street confirmed that talks were in their “early stages” and the British Government’s international trade department said Bahrain “would be a valuable addition to the Typhoon family.”

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa has also banned protests in recent days and heightened punishments for those who do not abide by new laws. Earlier this week al-Khawaja had spoken out against the move, saying “Basically they’re… legalizing things that they’ve already been doing.” “What we’ve been seeing in the past couple weeks since the announcing of the planned protest on the 14th of August … [is] a very severe escalation in the crackdown.”