An independent report has confirmed that Danish political activist and member of the Bahraini political opposition, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, has been subjected to torture, violence and sexual abuse while jailed in Bahrain.
In response, Danish foreign minister Villy Søvndal met his Bahraini counterpart in Bonn on Monday and demanded that those responsible be held accountable.
“It’s completely unacceptable that a society that purports to be part of the international community subjects its citizens to such treatment,” Søvndal told TV2 News. “It’s humiliating and insulting and they must stop.”
Søvndal met Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, at an international conference on Afghanistan. Khalifa said he would investigate the situation further.
Al-Khawaja – a human rights activist who sought political asylum in Denmark in 1991 and obtained Danish citizenship – was arrested this April in Bahrain after participating in anti-government rallies. He was handed a life sentence in June.
The independent report, which was commissioned by the Bahraini government, outlined how al-Khawaja had been hit, kicked, thrown down stairs, had his jaw broken, and sexually abused while in prison.
Al-Khawaja has previously worked for Amnesty International which has since called on the Danish government to push for his release.
“We now have it in black and white that the Danish citizen Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has been subjected to torture, sexual abuse, violence and degrading treatment,” Lars Normann Jørgensen, the general secretary of Amnesty International Denmark, told Berlingske newspaper.
“The Danish government needs to use every diplomatic opportunity to overturn al-Khawaja’s life sentence and have him unconditionally released,” Jørgensen said. “He is the definition of a political prisoner who has been tortured and sentenced simply because of his peaceful fight for reforms and human rights.”