Jun 12, 2023


#FreeAlKhawaja newsletter                   April-May 2023


Dear valued readers,


Welcome to our latest newsletter! This newsletter will cover updates from April and May on:


  1. Update on Al-Khawaja’s health
  2. Update on Al-Khawaja’s access to his lawyer 
  3. Update on family visits 
  4. Summary of detention anniversary campaign and next steps 


  • Update on Al-Khawaja’s health 


Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja’s health is currently stable (noting that much of his existing health issues continue), but concerns persist over his wellbeing. Urgent action is needed to ensure that he receives adequate medical attention and care to prevent further health complications. Please find a timeline of recent medical events regarding Al-Khawaja below.


Timeline of recent medical events regarding Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja

  • 28 February 2023:
    Al-Khawaja informed his family that he was taken by ambulance to an emergency room on the eve of 28 February due to an urgent heart issue. Despite the recommendation of the emergency doctor at the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) Hospital, Al-Khawaja was refused an urgent appointment with a cardiologist.
  • 2 March 2023:
    Professor Damian McCormack, surgeon at Temple Street, Dublin, Ireland, stated that being refused cardiology assessment and denied treatment while suffering from a symptomatic cardiac arrhythmia, possible atrial fibrillation, puts Al-Khawaja at immediate risk of both heart attack and stroke.
  • 7 March 2023:
    The Bahraini regime put out a public statement claiming that Al-Khawaja was expecting an appointment with a cardiologist on 19 March. Neither Al-Khawaja nor his family were informed of this appointment.
  • 19 March 2023:
    Al-Khawaja was not taken to the planned appointment. Al-Khawaja’s family was told that a new appointment was set for 26 March 2023.
  • 26 March 2023:
    Al-Khawaja was not taken to the planned appointment despite agreeing to being handcuffed, which is against medical advice, and to being transported in the infamous “Turkish bus”.
  • 5 April 2023:
    Bahraini authorities put out a public statement on 5 April claiming that Al-Khawaja “recently underwent the necessary medical care” and that his appointment on 26 March was cancelled because he refused to comply with the instated regulations
  • 6 April 2023:
    This is in contradiction to Al-Khawaja’s own statement made on 6 April that he agreed to comply with all the regulations to go see a doctor despite their negative impact on his health, but they refused to take him
  • 11 May 2023:
    Al-Khawaja had a planned appointment, but he was not taken.
  • 31 May 2023:
    Al-Khawaja had a conversation with Dr. Amani, who is in charge of the prison’s health center. She suggested that he see a cardiologist within the prison.
  • 1 June 2023:
    Al-Khawaja met with a cardiologist from Salmaniya Hospital in the prison clinic, who did not have access to his medical file nor the equipment necessary to conduct a proper exam. The cardiologist  stated that he needs an X-ray and specialized medical examination where he wears an EKG reader for several days to monitor his heart. Despite the prison doctors’ recommendation and the fact that other prisoners were transported to their medical appointments in regular cars, Al-Khawaja was only offered transportation while handcuffed and in the inhumane and abhorrent conditions of the Turkish armory. Since the shift in allowing other prisoners to be moved without handcuffs and in a regular vehicle, Al-Khawaja has insisted that he be treated similarly and allowed to attend his medical appointments – to no avail.
  • Updates on Al-Khawaja’s access to legal representation: 

In addition to concerns about his health and transportation conditions, there are also alarming issues surrounding Al-Khawaja’s access to his legal representation. Reports in April and May indicated that Al-Khawaja is being denied access to his lawyer, which raises doubts about access to basic rights. Furthermore, he is being prevented from accessing his own legal case files, further undermining his ability to effectively defend himself and review the evidence against him. In the last six months, he has only met with his lawyer twice, once in January and once in March.

Furthermore, he is being prevented from obtaining the false statements issued by the government of Bahrain in response to a recent UN critique (find both documents here). This further denies him the right to effectively defend himself and review the allegations made against him.


  • Updates on Al-khawaja’s access to family visit: 

While other prisoners were allowed a special visit to their cell, Al-Khawaja was denied a similar visit when he requested that his wife or his daughter be allowed to come to the prison. 

  • Summary of detention anniversary campaign and next steps 

In April, the anniversary of Al-Khawaja’s detention in 2011 and his 62nd birthday were marked. Al-Khawaja is not only a father, husband, friend, and grandfather, but also a prominent human rights defender and thinker. To celebrate his life and impact, people shared personal videos and favorite memories of him, including members of his family who discussed his positive influence on their lives.


Moreover, Al-Khawaja’s dedication to the cause of human rights has led to a campaign for his release. Human rights advocates, such as the Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights, Khaled Ibrahim, Bahraini activist Ali Mushaima, and human rights advocate Kristina Stockwood, shared their thoughts on his impact and praised his work. Bahraini human rights activist Ebtisam Alsaegh also shared her admiration for his tireless efforts to promote and defend human rights. These videos were watched by thousands and served as a powerful reminder of Al-Khawaja’s enduring legacy.