Press release: Al-Khawaja's urgent need for medical evacuation to Denmark builds as wait for cardiological access is prolonged
7 March 2023
- As previously stated, last week Al-Khawaja was taken to an emergency hospital due to an urgent heart issue, and subsequently denied access to a cardiologist.
- Today, the Bahraini regime put out a public statement claiming that Al-Khawaja has been given an appointment with a cardiologist on the 19th of March.
- As of this morning, neither Al-Khawaja nor his family were informed of this appointment.
- Al-Khawaja’s family stresses that they consider Al-Khawaja’s heart issue as urgent and that Bahrain and Denmark must work together to ensure a medical evacuation to Denmark where Al-Khawaja can be transferred to a tertiary level cardiac care unit for diagnostics and treatment.
- Al-Khawaja is in need of torture rehabilitation which includes treatment for multiple medical issues, as outlined in this statement by Dr. McCormack.
- Al-Khawaja was finally allowed a visit with his lawyer on Monday 6th March, and an eye check up without any equipment on 2nd March.
Maryam Al-Khawaja, Al-Khawaja’s daughter, commented:
“I have spent the past years dealing with one medical emergency after another for my father. I’m extremely worried that while my father is stable at the moment, this does not negate the risk of heart attack or stroke as stated by Dr. McCormack.
Our family has learnt from a public statement by the Bahraini regime that our father has an appointment with a cardiologist on the 19th of March, but neither my father nor our family have been informed of this news. It appears to be a public facing statement as a result of the pressure we’ve been able to raise in the past week. We are worried that our fathers health can get worse in the time leading up to the appointment, or at the hospital where he was previously tortured and given our experience with the regime, there is no guarantee that he will actually be taken to this appointment.
My father should have never been imprisoned to begin with and he should have never been tortured severely. But he was, and he’s been in prison for the past 12 years. We insist that he be given a medical evacuation to Denmark, where he can be treated at a tertiary level cardiac care unit for diagnostics and treatment, and to receive the care he needs for all his medical issues. Given the reluctance of the Bahrain regime to treat our fathers medical condition with the necessary urgency and the fact that he has instead been transferred to a hospital where he was previously tortured underlines the seriousness of a medical evacuation. We urge the Danish government to use any and all means necessary to make this happen.”
Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja is a prominent human rights defender and Danish-Bahraini citizen who was detained in 2011 in Bahrain after leading peaceful protests calling for fundamental freedoms and rights in Bahrain. Almost 12 years later, he remains at Jau Prison facing dire prison conditions and systematic denial of medical treatment.
In November 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry documented in a report that Al-Khawaja was subjected to torture and sexually assaulted by security forces in 2011. The torture occurred, among other places, at the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) Hospital.
In December 2022, an overwhelming majority in the European Parliament passed an resolution recognizing that Al-Khawaja suffers from a series of chronic and degenerative health problems, including extreme back pain and impaired vision, which is a direct consequence of his imprisonment, torture and deprivation of access to medical care. The European Parliament furthermore acknowledged that the prison authorities at Jau Prison have been denying Al-Khawaja adequate medical treatment.
In April 2022, Amnesty International and Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) raised concern over the ongoing medical neglect of Al-Khawaja, which, among other things, could lead to the risk of blindness for Al-Khawaja.
The inadequate treatment of Al-Khawaja follows a shocking pattern of medical negligence in Bahrain’s prison system, where patients are denied specialist care and pain medication, as revealed by Amnesty International in September 2018.