Index on Censorship: Bahraini Authorities Oppress Activists and their Families
2017-08-19 - 7:33 p
Bahrain Mirror- Exclusive: Index on Censorship said in an article on its website that human rights defenders often confront obstacles that make their work difficult. The organization indicated that the families of activists suffer along with their loved ones and are often targeted with official harassment: detention, loss of employment, beatings and harassment. Each case is an individual story of a struggle for freedom.
It highlighted that the nation's only independent news outlet, Al-Wasat, was shut down and prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to two years in prison for "spreading fake news". It also pointed out to what some activists and their families were subjected to, including Ahmed Al-Wadaei, Maryam Al-Khawaja and Adam Nabeel Rajab.
Alwadaei was among 72 Bahraini citizens to be stripped of their citizenship. He was arrested three times in the United Kingdom; he was arrested twice over protesting against the visit of Bahraini ruling family members to Britain and again in June 2017 over protesting in front of the Bahraini embassy in London. In October 2016, Al-Wadaei's wife and infant son Yousif also faced official harassment as they tried to leave Bahrain to join Al-Wadaei in the UK.
When asked how he continues campaigning under these circumstances, Al-Wadaei told index: "We can only get through this by sticking together and staying strong. It's important to have a supportive family. The potential for arrest and torture is something they know and have to be willing to sacrifice." He added that he is balancing his efforts to get his mother-in-law out of prison while continuing his work in activism. "It's hard but this is the right thing to do."
"The oppression or torture aims to do one thing: to break your will because you're not ready for the consequences," Al-Wadaei said. "This is the state they want to leave you in. They want you to be broken and this is why we keep going."
In her turn, Maryam Al-Khawaja said it's difficult for her family members when they're in jail as they have to "take care of us when we cannot take care of ourselves".
In the same context, Adam Rajab stated that he realized when he was young that his father Nabeel wasn't like other dads, indicating that they have a very close relationship so the imprisonment has not been easy.
"I haven't seen him for more than a year now and he faces more charges which probably means more prison sentences," Rajab said.
He went on to say: "I find it difficult to enjoy anything while he is locked up in a cell and deprived of life, but as he taught me, the spirit is always up."
Rajab wants his father to be free and for them to live like any other ordinary family, but this does not take away from how proud he is or the strength of his belief in his father's cause.
A psychologist explained to Index that having a family member with a sentence with a sure release date is one case but when trials or release dates are postponed time and time again as they are in Bahrain, it is much more difficult. "We are rational problem solvers but not good with the unpredictable."
The psychologist explained that the situation in Bahrain is unlike what most with family members behind bars will ever experience. False hope puts an even greater emotional strain on loved ones.
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