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For Immediate Release

PHR Condemns Arrest of Prominent Bahraini Human Rights Activist and Family Members; Urges Immediate US Government Intervention

Cambridge, Mass - 04/09/2011

Cambridge, Mass. — April 9, 2011 — One of Bahrain’s leading human rights activists, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, was physically assaulted and arrested early today. Only hours after PHR had concluded an in-country emergency investigation regarding issues of medical neutrality, Bahraini authorities continued their ongoing campaign of night time arrests of human rights and opposition leaders, which has also systematically targeted physicians. Early Saturday, police forces stormed the apartment of Mr. al-Khawaja, and beat and arrested him in front of his daughter. The authorities also arrested two of his sons-in-laws, who were present in the apartment. The additional arrests of those family members clearly indicate that any person can be targeted for arrest by Bahraini authority.

“PHR strongly condemns these arbitrary arrests, which clearly violate internationally guaranteed human rights and legal standards,” said Frank Donaghue, CEO of Physicians for Human Rights. “PHR calls on President Obama and the international community, including the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, to intervene urgently with the Bahraini government to cease its ongoing arrest campaign, and to release unconditionally all individuals whose internationally guaranteed rights of freedom of speech, movement and to organize have been violated.”

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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