November 22, 2012
by Index on Censorship
International Day to End Impunity is on 23 November, and since the start of the month, the campaign has highlighted activists, journalists, and dissidents who have suffered from impunity. Today the campaign highlights Bahraini activist Zainab Alkhawaja, who has been in and out of prison for her work speaking out against human rights abuses in the country.
It’s hard to keep track of how many times Bahraini Twitter activist Zainab AlKhawaja, 28, has been in and out of jail. AlKhawaja (@angryarabiya) has faced more than a dozen charges this year alone for speaking out about human rights violations in Bahrain, where dozens of people have been killed since pro-democracy protests began in February 2011.
Officially, AlKhawaja has been jailed for “illegally” protesting, insulting the King, and inciting hatred against the regime. A “disrupting traffic” charge was made after she staged a one-person protest outside the prison where her father, human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is serving a life sentence for his role in organising protests.
During her numerous arrests, she has been abused by police, who enforce the will of the regime and thus have not been punished for their crimes. At a June protest, she was seriously injured when security forces shot a tear gas canister at her leg. The cast on her leg did not stop them from handcuffing her and dragging her down stairs when they arrested her after another one-person protest in August. She was kept in jail for two months following that arrest, which was hard on her young daughter.
In its report released on 23 November 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) noted a “culture of impunity” for abuses committed by security forces and police during the protests. Yet despite the inquiry being ordered by the King himself, very few people have been held accountable, allowing for ongoing violations.
Despite being an obvious target, AlKhawaja won’t stop protesting. “We have a king who has been killing and torturing his own people. We should have the right to protest against that,” she said after the authorities banned all demonstrations in October 2012.
For more information on the International Day to End Impunity, visit the site here.