[Updated] Bahrain: One Activist Hospitalized, Another One Killed
Activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is on his 52nd day of hunger strike, was hospitalized last night after collapsing for a second time in prison. His family was denied a visit to see him, but was told he could slip into a coma any moment. Zainab al-Khawaja, his daughter, said, ”With one word from the American government, my father would be released. I am sure of that,” adding that she feels the American government is “more concerned with [its] interests than [it is] with human rights and the lives of Bahrainis and democracy in Bahrain.” Al-Khawaja’s lawyer, Mohammed al-Jaishi, and 20 other activists’ lawyers appealed their clients’ convictions and sentences in court and are awaiting a verdict. They also asked a five-judge panel to free the prisoners on bail, but were denied the request. Al-Jaishi is also the lawyer for leading activist and President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights Nabeel Rajab who was arrested, interrogated, then released on Sunday, but could be facing a trial.
Ahmed Ismael Hassan AlSamadi, a 22-year-old citizen journalist, was shot during a peaceful anti-government demonstration, where witnesses said he was filming the violations of security forces. His death was confirmed by the Ministry of Interior, and that the “medical examiner attribute[d] death of Ahmed Ismael to a single bullet wound.” Opposition groups blamed “militiamen” accompanying security forces who fired live bullets at the protesters from a civilian car, hitting AlSamadi. Following the death, protesters intensified their campaign against holding the Formula 1 (F1) Grand Prix race scheduled for April. ”We [object to] holding a sports race that belittles the sacrifices of our children and ignores our suffering and wounds,” said a statement that was read in a video posted online.
Update: The head of the United Nations agency tasked with promoting and defending the freedom of the press called for an investigation into the killing of Ahmed Ismael Hassan AlSamadi. “The basic human right of freedom of expression and the freedom of journalists and citizen journalists to cover events are essential for any society that wants to uphold the principles of democracy and rule of law,” said the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova.