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Al-Khawaja to receive Politiken's Freedom Prize
The Danish-Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja will be awarded this year’s Politikens Frihedspris (Freedom Prize).
Al-Khawaja is currently serving a lifetime sentence in Bahrain after being arrested in April 2011 for his activism to promote greater political and individual freedoms in his native country.
Despite international pressure to have al-Khawaja released into Danish custody, he remains imprisoned. His 110-day hunger strike, which he called off in May, gained widespread attention and led to international calls for his release.
Al-Khawaja was granted political asylum in Denmark in 1991 following a crack down on political opponents of the ruling Al Khalifa family.
Before returning in 1999, he adopted Danish citizenship and established the Bahrain Human Rights Organisation that is credited with helping facilitate political reform in Bahrain.
In 2002 he established the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and until February 2011 he was also the Middle East and northern Africa protection co-ordinator for the pro-democracy organisation Front Line Defenders.
His daughter Maryam al-Khawaja, the international liaison and deputy head of the BCHR, will accept the prize on his behalf on October 29. The prize comes with a 100,000 kroner award and according to Politiken honours "exceptional individuals or organisations struggling to defend or win freedom under hazardous conditions". Previous winners include Cuban author Ricardo Gonzales and Egyptian human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim.
Maryam al-Khawaja will be awarded the Stieg Larsson Prize in November for her work promoting human rights in Bahrain and the Middle East.