Letter from Maryam Alkhawaja to Kim Kardashian
(The following letter was issued by Maryam Alkhawwaja, Acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, on 29 November 2012.])
Dear Ms. Kardashian,
My name is Maryam Alkhawaja, and I am writing in my capacity as the Acting President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR). [Our work has been recognized by a number of international human rights bodies over the last few years- see below.] I am pleased that you’ll be visiting Bahrain, and that you’re interested in using your celebrity to “raise awareness about important issues in the area.” It is admirable that you will take time to meet with local leaders during your busy trip. International human rights organizations have only faced difficulties in entering Bahrain, and since you have listed this as a priority, we’d like to extend an invitation to you to meet with local human rights defenders, who have been documenting Bahrain’s deplorable human rights violations since the unrest started two years ago.
The revolution in Bahrain began on 14 February 2011, and for the past two years the struggle for human rights and dignity has been faced with a violent crackdown. Although not everyone may have heard of the revolution, Bahrain is well known for its Grand Prix and the Bahrain International Air Show. This is because the government of Bahrain want you to believe that the country is merely the home of exciting business opportunities and a modern, new Middle East. No matter how they spin it, Bahrain has had at least eighty-four people killed since February 2011 and more than eighty children arrested in just the past several months. People have even been arrested for things they’ve said on Twitter. I don’t know about you, but I’d hardly call that modern.
If you are, as was reported, planning to meet with "local leaders," we hope that you take time during your trip to learn about abuses that have largely been ignored by the international community. Given your fame, it is impossible for your trip to remain apolitical. This is because it will be used to demonstrate to the international community that everything in Bahrain is fine. We can assure you that unfortunately, everything is not fine, and that your celebrity status is likely to be used in order to distract the global public from Bahrain’s human rights violations. We are delighted to hear you will be meeting local leaders, and the BCHR would be happy to help arrange those for you.
Acting President - BCHR