Bahrain: NPWJ calls for immediate release of human rights activist Maryam Al-Khawaja

2 Sep, 2014 | Press Releases

Brussels – Rome – New York, 2 September 2014

Upon her arrival at Manama’s airport on Saturday 30 August 2014, prominent Bahraini human rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja was denied entry to the country and subsequently arrested. According to her lawyer, Maryam Al-Khawaja, who holds dual Bahraini and Danish citizenship, was “stripped of her nationality” and prosecutors plan to present charges against her, including insulting Bahrain’s king and assaulting a police officer at the airport.
Maryam al-Khawaja, co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), was travelling to Bahrain to visit her father, the detained human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who began a hunger strike on 26 August 2014 to protest the continuation of his arbitrary arrest and detention. Mr Al-Khawaja was sentenced to life in prison in June 2011 by a military court and continues to be denied adequate medical attention and suffers from severe medical complications as a result of his mistreatment in detention.

Statement by Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice:
“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) firmly condemn the arrest and detention of Maryam Al-Khawaja and call upon the Bahraini authorities to ensure her prompt and unconditional release. Maryam’s arrest is an umpteenth demonstration of the continuous repressive and retaliatory practices carried out by the Bahraini authorities against those whose only “crime” has been to speak out in favour of reform, human rights and democracy in Bahrain.

“Three years after its violent response to citizens’ rallies demanding political reform and despite repeated pledges, the regime in Bahrain has failed to deliver any concrete and serious plans for reform, let alone any reform itself. Worse, it continues to suppress peaceful dissent and denies a majority of Bahrainis their fundamental rights on a daily basis. Civil society activists and human rights defenders, including minors, are still routinely subjected to harassment, arbitrary detention and imprisonment, ill-treatment and unfair and politically-motivated trials for having participated in peaceful demonstrations or criticised officials.

“We call on the international community to take action to ensure the immediate release of Maryam Al-Khawaja and to demand the respect of international conventions and universal human rights by the Bahraini authorities. A truly democratic transition in Bahrain will be achieved only if all those who are committed to peaceful and nonviolent dialogue are free to contribute fully to the political process.”

NPWJ Bahrain Project
No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) supports Bahraini human rights organisations and activists in their efforts to promote a democratic and nonviolent political reform in Bahrain. It focuses on assisting human rights defenders and human rights advocates to secure effective and genuine accountability for past and ongoing violations of human rights, including through outreach, monitoring and documentation.

For further information, please contact: Gianluca Eramo, MENA Democracy Program Coordinator, email:, phone: +32 2 548 39 12 or Nicola Giovannini on or +32 2 548 39 15.