The repressive Bahraini government continues to abuse human rights and crack down on democracy protests. The UK has a close relationship with Bahrain but has failed to speak out about its human rights violations – instead it has prioritised trying to secure more arms sales to this authoritarian regime. We urgently need it to speak out now.
Maryam Al Khawaja is an inspiring human rights defender, who has fought tirelessly for justice for others. Now she needs our help.
This weekend Maryam attempted to travel to Bahrain, to visit her sick father, himself a prisoner of conscience who has been subjected to appalling abuses, and is now on a life-threatening hunger strike. On her arrival she was detained and told her citizenship had been revoked. She is now in detention, facing charges such as ‘insulting the king’ because she dared to criticise the regime’s abuses.
The UK is complicit in Bahrain’s crimes.
CAAT first spoke to Maryam in 2011 after UK weapons had been used to put down protests in Bahrain. In March 2011 Saudi Arabia had sent in UK-supplied armoured vehicles to aid the repression.
Maryam told us then about the violence and abuses endured by her family, and how their story was just one case among many others – and she told us how important action by the UK is, if change is happen.
Today the UK government is still choosing to put arms sales and BAE’s profits ahead of the lives and rights of the people of Bahrain. But its role could be very different. It is a key supplier and has a long political relationship with Bahrain and it has a choice about whether it prioritises human rights or arms sales.
Maryam and other Bahraini human rights defenders have been very clear that UK action can make a difference to what happens in Bahrain.
So please help encourage the UK to put human rights first.
Update: On 18 September Maryam was allowed out of prison. International pressure is having an effect! BUT please keep up the pressure. Maryam still faces serious charges and is banned from leaving the country. Her father and other political prisoners are still on hunger strike. Maryam is due in court again in October.
If you’re on twitter, please tweet:
- The British Foreign Office @foreignoffice and the UK embassy in Bahrain @UKinBahrain. Ensure the British government understand that people know and care about Maryam’s case, and object to the UK’s support for the regime. Demand they speak out for Maryam, and for all political prisoners in Bahrain.
- You can also tweet the Danish foreign minister @martinlidegaard (Maryam has joint Danish citizenship) and ask him to bring his influence to bear to get Maryam released.
On Facebook you can contact:
Please consider emailing your MP.
Wherever you are in the world, you can:
Show your solidarity with Maryam by signing this statement of support.
Maryam has unfailingly defended human rights, and spoken out against abuses wherever they occur in the world. Now people across the world need to speak up for her.
- A recent interview with Maryam on the continuing protests in Bahrain, the regime’s continued repression and the UK’s involvement in the ongoing situation.
- How Maryam’s arrest further exposes the UK government’s fiction of Bahrain’s ‘reform’.
- Human Rights Watch on the bravery of the al-Khawajas and the UK’s complicity in Bahrain’s abuses.
- Sara Yasin in the Guardian on Maryam, “the sort of woman dictators have nightmares about”, and how the UK and US are complicit in Bahrain’s abuses.
- The Economist on “a movement behind bars”.
Editors note: this is a historical article, which originally linked to pages which no longer exist. Where possible, these links have been fixed; otherwise, they have been removed.