Bahrain hunger striker will get retrial
The decision to give him a retrial is a partial victory for Khawaja, but his family said immediately that it did not go far enough as he is to remain in custody. "Abdulhadi al-Khawaja did not go on hunger strike saying death or retrial, he said death or freedom," his daughter Maryam wrote on Twitter. "A retrial doesn't mean much." Khawaja's wife, Khadija al-Moussawi, told the BBC: "I think it is ridiculous. What sort of legal process is this? They are playing for time, and should have transferred his case to a civilian court at the first hearing, not the third." The Bahrain Human Rights Society noted that the retrial would still be based on interrogations carried out by military prosecutors.
The retrial decision is line with the so far largely ignored recommendations of the Bahrain independent commission of investigation (BICI) appointed by King Hamad Al Khalifa, which found that Khawaja had suffered prolonged torture while in detention. Khawaja has dual nationality with Denmark, and the Danish ambassador criticised the decision to keep him in custody and renewed his call for Khawaja to be transferred to Denmark on humanitarian grounds. Bahrain's government, meanwhile, has been accused of urging supporters to vote in an online opinion poll on the Radio Times website to ensure that a highly critical film about repression during last year's protests does not win the current affairs prize at this year's Bafta Television Awards. On Saturday, the Bahraini foreign minister, Khalid Al Khalifa, tweeted to his nearly 80,000 followers urging loyalists to vote against the al-Jazeera documentary Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark. The film has already won numerous awards for al-Jazeera. Human Rights Watch said in a new report at the weekend that Bahraini police were beating and torturing detainees, including minors, despite the recommendations of the BICI and public commitments to end torture and police impunity.
"Bahrain has displaced the problem of torture and police brutality from inside police stations to the point of arrest and transfer to police stations," said Nadim Houry, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "This abuse contradicts one of the most important recommendations of the independent commission and shows why investigations and prosecutions of abusers to the highest level are essential to stopping these practices."
See also: A call from the international network - Secularism Is A Women’s Issue (SIAWI)
To the authorities in Bahrain and to Member-States of the European Union: