The daughters of a prominent human rights activist jailed in Bahrain said that he resumed a hunger strike Wednesday after being denied medical care and as the country’s crown prince visits the United States.
Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a dual Danish-Bahraini citizen, was jailed after taking part in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising in the tiny island nation in the Persian Gulf. He later was convicted of terrorism charges in a case that has been criticized internationally. His supporters say the 62-year-old has been tortured and is in ill health.
Zeynep Al-Khawaja posted a video on X, formerly known as Twitter, in which she said her father had resumed his hunger strike after being denied a medical appointment to treat his glaucoma, which the family fears could result in blindness. They say he also suffers from a potentially fatal heart condition.
He is among hundreds of prisoners at the Jaw Rehabilitation and Reform Center who launched a hunger strike on Aug. 7 to protest the conditions of their incarceration. The facility holds several prisoners identified by rights groups as dissidents who oppose the rule of the Al Khalifa family.
The prisoners suspended the strike on Tuesday after authorities said they would improve health care at the prison. Authorities also agreed to limit isolation, expand visitor rights and extend the hours of exposure to daylight, even as the government had downplayed the strike over the past month.
There was no immediate comment from Bahrain’s government on Al-Khawaja, but in the past it has denied mistreating detainees. The U.S. State Department and human rights groups say detainees have have been beaten, humiliated and subjected to other degrading treatment.
Al-Khawaja’s other daughter, Maryam, who shared the video, plans to risk her own arrest by visiting Bahrain this week with other human rights activists to press for her father’s release.
Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who is also Bahrain’s prime minister, is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday to sign a security and economic agreement.
Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, saw mass protests in 2011 supported by the Shiite majority against the Sunni monarchy. Authorities violently quashed the demonstrations with help from neighboring Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two other U.S. allies.