Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei is a Bahraini activist currently living in exile in the UK. He was forced to flee Bahrain in 2011 after being arrested for taking part in anti-government protests. The Bahraini government revoked his citizenship and launched a smear campaign labelling him a terrorist.
His family have also been subjected to numerous human rights violations by the Bahraini authorities, including arbitrary detention, unfair trial, ill-treatment and possible torture.
As the director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, his work has become a vital resource for international media and NGOs such as Amnesty International. One such case was the discovery that institutions supported by UK taxpayers have been implicated in torture and other human rights abuses.
Despite the danger faced by him and his family, Alwadaei continues his work as a prominent critic of the Bahraini government.
“I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Index on Censorship for awarding me this prestigious prize. I am sorry not to be able to accept it in person, but I commend Index for taking the decision to keep us all safe during this crisis.
The price for expressing yourself in Bahrain remains very high. I myself ended up in prison for speaking to the press during the Arab Spring and Bahrain has jailed members of my family to silence me.
During the coronavirus crisis, I would like to pay tribute to those imprisoned in Bahrain for speaking out against the regime. This award is very special to me because my dear friend, Nabeel Rajab, was awarded this prize in 2012. Nabeel is currently serving 5 years in prison for criticising the government on Twitter.
In these difficult times, it is more important than ever that freedom of speech is protected and that independent, critical voices are heard.”