Leading Bahraini human-rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja was beaten bloody and dragged out of his house by government police over the weekend in Manama, his daughter (and former Fulbright Fellow at Brown University) Maryam Alkhawaja tells the Voice.
Abdulhadi Alkhawaja was dragged down the stairs of the house by the neck and severely beaten by five officers. Pummeled to unconsciousness, he was taken away to an unknown location. His daughter Zainab was reportedly assaulted when she attempted to intervene, says 23-year-old Maryam. The women present in the house were then locked in a room and prevented from leaving.
“I’m just doing everything I can,” says Maryam, who is now in Providence, Rhode Island, and in close touch with her family. “Contacting the media, and everyone I know. I don’t know what else I can do but I’m trying.”
The BBC says Alkhawaja “has long been a thorn in the government’s side.” Bahrain is under emergency law, with heavily armed troops patrolling the streets. Hundreds of protesters have been arrested.
Maryam says her father never advocated violence. Her sister in Bahrain is on a hunger strike to protest the arrest. Officials contend that he “violently resisted arrest and had to be subdued,” but family members put the lie to that.
Maryam Alkhawaja herself had been actively protesting in the capital, as she told the Voice last month via Skype. She works for the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, which her father founded and which was mentioned by the Crown Prince of Bahrain in a 2004 Wikileaks cable.
(For good background, check out Nicholas Kristof’s “Blood Runs Through the Streets of Bahrain” in the Times.)
Here is what Maryam Alkhawaja says her family told her: At around 3 am on April 9, masked police busted into the family home in Manama. One of them — the family says he spoke English and no Arabic — began beating up Abdulhadi Alkhawaja and fellow activist Mohammed Al-Masqati, president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights. Abdulhadi Alkhawaja was arrested along with two sons-in-law. The family do not know their whereabouts.
The April 9 Twitter feed of Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Khalid al Khalifa, confirms the arrest: “Yes he was arrested for charges to be brought against him legally. He violently resisted the arrest and had to be subdued.”