April 9, 2012
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
We write to urge you to publicly call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and uncon-
ditionally release from prison Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. Al-Khawaja is a Bahraini human rights
defender and democracy activist who may soon die, as he has been on a hunger strike for more
than two months.
Al-Khawaja was arrested one year ago in the wake of popular protests against the Bahraini
government, and sentenced to life in prison. While in detention, al-Khawaja suffered from
torture and severe ill-treatment. As a result, he was admitted to the Bahrain Defence Force
Hospital in April last year with a cracked jaw and skull requiring several operations on his
head and face.
To protest his ongoing detention and mistreatment, al-Khawaja began a hunger strike on Feb-
ruary 8. In an open letter to the King of Bahrain, al-Khawaja pledged to stay on hunger strike
until “freedom or death.”
After being arrested in April 2011, al-Khawaja was sentenced to life in prison in June 2011 as
part of a group trial of 21 activists and human rights defenders. This group was charged with
a range of offenses related to their role in peaceful demonstrations in Bahrain in February and
March 2011. International human rights organizations and the Bahrain Independent Commis-
sion of Inquiry (BICI) have stated that the trials did not comply with international standards of
due process, nor even Bahrain’s own criminal code, because the 21 civilians were tried before
National Safety Courts, which are military courts.
The evidence is clear that al-Khawaja and others were sentenced in violation of their rights to
freedom of expression, assembly and association, which are protected under international law.
We are deeply concerned about the health of human rights defender Abdulhadi al-Khawaja,
and respectfully request that the United States urge the Government of Bahrain to release al-
Khawaja immediately and allow him to travel abroad, including for medical treatment, if he
wishes to do so.
Thank you for your consideration.
3P Human Security
Project on Middle
Association of America
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch
Just Foreign Policy
Americans for Democracy and
Human Rights in Bahrain