Bahrain: Hunger strike activist collapses

Bahraini activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja collapsed last night while on hunger strike. Alkhawaja, who went on hunger strike ahead of the February 14 anniversary of mass protests in Bahrain, was taken to the hospital where he was given IV treatment without his consent. The activist’s lawyer reported Alkhawaja showed serious signs of fatigue and had difficulty moving and walking. His daughter, Zainab, continues to be detained and his younger brother, Salah Alkhawaja, who is also imprisoned has joined the hunger strike.

The return to Pearl Roundabout

A year ago today, mass protests took place at the now demolished Pearl Roundabout in the Bahrain capital, Manama. This year protesters have been attempting to return to the square where, for a month last year, thousands gathered to call for change. Protesters documented their failed attempts to reach the roundabout on 12 February, when a march to the symbolic square was quickly crushed by security forces. Clashes have escalated in the lead up to the anniversary of Bahrain’s mass protests, which has now claimed at least 60 lives.

During the attempt to return to the roundabout on Sunday, activist and prolific Twitter user, Zainab Al-Khawaja was arrested by security forces, having previously been arrested and released on bail in December. According to her sister Maryam Al-Khawaja, head of foreign relations for the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Zainab was detained on charges of “illegal gathering” and “disturbing the peace”.  She will be in prison for the 14 February protests, like her father, who is currently serving a life sentence for his participation in protests last year.

Still, protesters are determined to return to the heavily monitored square. Last night, hundreds were dispersed through the use of  tear gas by officials.

Prominent human rights activist and director of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, said that he was taking his family to the roundabout to remind the government that they have “legitimate demands”, to “give people strength” and to show the commitment of leaders: