Supporters of a jailed Danish human rights activist in Bahrain braved the rain to hold a rally in Copenhagen this afternoon and urge for greater international pressure to help secure his release.
Activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja was arrested and jailed for life last year for his role in organising peaceful demonstrations demanding increased democratic freedoms in Bahrain.
As his hunger strike enters its tenth week, international support for al-Khawaja and condemnation of the regime in Bahrain has so far failed to secure his release into Danish custody.
The activist’s daughter, Maryam Al-Khawaja, herself an activist at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, urged the international community to place more pressure on Manama.
“Why has this happened to my father?” Maryam al-Khawaja asked. “It is because he used democratic ideals and values that he found in Denmark.”
According to Maryam al-Khawaja, there are some 600 political prisoners currently being held in Bahrain for demanding greater democratic freedoms.
She proceeded to criticise today’s decision by Formula One to proceed with the race in Bahrain later this month despite ongoing clashes in the Gulf state in which the authorities have reportedly used shotguns on unarmed protestors.
Among the speakers at the rally in Copenhagen was a Bahraini woman who moved here in the 1980s as a child.
“With his hunger strike, al-Khawaja is not only trying to achieve his release, but to a greater extent place focus on the continuing human rights violations in Bahrain,” she said. “We are gathered here today not simply to show solidarity for al-Khawaja but also to show we support the values that he has risked his life for.”
After the rally dispersed, she told the Copenhagen Post that she considered the rally a success.
“I hope that this rally will put pressure on the regime to make them realise that we are not going to stop fighting.”