The Bertha Foundation and several of our partner organisations have signed onto a letter addressed to the King of Bahrain, asking for the immediate and unconditional release of 27-year old internationally-recognized human rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja.
Based abroad for the last few years, Maryam has been a leading advocate against the Bahrain authorities’ human rights abuses. In the early morning hours of Saturday 30th August, she was arrested on a trip back to Bahrain, and now faces charges of assaulting police officers at the airport during the confiscation of her phone (a charge she denies). Other offenses have been mentioned but not formally lodged yet. At a court hearing on Tuesday 16th September, Bahraini courts extended Al Khawaja’s detention until at least 1st October.
She is the co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. She is also the daughter of the former president and co-founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who has been in detention since 2011, serving a life sentence for peacefully exercising his human rights. Leading international human rights organizations and four UN human rights experts – Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders, on Freedom of Assembly, on Freedom of Expression and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention – have called for her release.
Bertha Justice Initiative partner ECCHR, has also worked with Maryam and her organization over the years.