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Justice Sociale / Démocratie Directe / Nation Europe et الأمة العربية de Stéphane Parédé ستيفان بردي

Maryam Al-Khawaja and A Family of Heroes

2 Avril 2013 , Rédigé par justicesocialeetdemocratiedirecte.over-blog.com

Maryam Al-Khawaja



You know the classic question: “If you could spend an hour talking with one person, who would it be?” Rarely is a person lucky enough to actually get to meet his or her hero. Last week, we had the honor of speaking with a woman whose name shows up on a lot of people’s Hero List…

Maryam al-Khawaja is, in a word, extraordinary.

The al-Khawaja family is renowned in Bahrain for their tireless fight for human rights. Their legacy began more than 30 years ago when Maryam’s father Abdulhadi plunged into what would become a lifelong calling as a defender of civil liberties. His is a story of exile, imprisonment, and torture. It’s also a story of incredible bravery and dedication.

In time, Abdulhadi’s daughters joined him in the cause. But last week when Freedom House honored the family at the organization’s annual dinner, only Maryam was able to attend because both her father and sister are in jail.

For decades, champions like Maryam and her family have been advocating for human rights. Then in February 2011, a peaceful pro-democracy demonstration turned bloody when the government called in the Saudi military to help them brutally crush the protest. Bahrain has been wracked by unrest ever since.

For the Freedom House award, we produced this video:

Maryam and her family have paid a high price for their bravery. Her sister has been shot, beaten, arrested and detained. The girls’ father has been assaulted, arrested, tortured and subjected to unfair trials countless times. Since the February protest, he has been sentenced to life in prison for allegedly plotting to overthrow the state.

Even from jail, they make their voices heard. Abdulhadi garnered attention recently when he went on a hunger strike that lasted for 110 days and threatened to claim his life. From her jail cell, Zainab wrote a letter that was smuggled out in time for Maryam to read it at the dinner last week:

“My father, my sister, and I have expected a lot of things since the start of the pro-democracy revolution in Bahrain. Exile, injury, imprisonment and torture are amongst those things but I don’t think we ever expected getting an award. I‘ll take this opportunity not to say what is expected or appropriate, as I am not even sure what that is, but to share what I feel with you:

In a prison cell in Bahrain I close my eyes and I see image after image from this past year and a half. I see my father being dragged away by masked men, I look at his face, he is unconscious, his head bangs onto every step as they pull him from the legs…

I see tens of young men handcuffed to one another with their backs bent being taken into a court room for the crime of an illegal gathering. A thirteen year old boy stands in front of a judge looking confused, he does not understand his crime, he does not understand what inciting hated against the regime means…

An injured political prisoner is asked the specific locations of his injuries, not to get treated but to be used against him in the torture sessions. In a country where three, four, sometimes five members of on family are imprisoned I have an image of their empty seats on a dinner table…

I see injured protestors, some shot in their eyes, chained to their hospital beds, awaiting an unknown fate. An old man, a proud soul in a bruised and battered body stands facing a picture of a king with a choice: to kiss the picture or be forced to drink the urine and saliva of his torturers…

I see a three year old child watching the white walls of her room turn red as riot police bang her father’s and uncles’ heads against it; a young mother holds her tiny five day old baby trying to protect her from the toxic gases and fails; a child’s body being pulled away by his killers from his father’s last embrace…

As these images flash through my head they are accompanied with one sound—I hear a mother, calling for her 14 year old child, her voice fills the streets of her village, her voice fills my head but her son does not come running; he had been shot and killed that morning by riot police…

I open my eyes and I see the crack in the prison wall. We suffer on the path to freedom so that someday we can live without suffering, with our rights and dignity.


 My father, my sister, and I are honored and truly grateful to receive this award. We receive it in the name of every Bahraini who has suffered for liberty. We receive it in the name of the people of Bahrain who fight for their freedom against all odds. Thank you.”

Maryam’s voice was strong as she read her sister’s words. At times she longs to be back in Bahrain, but she also feels strongly her calling to be a voice to the rest of the world on behalf of her country and family.

The film we created for Freedom House to show at their dinner utilized the materials we had to work with at the time. Now we’re eager to re-do the film using Maryam’s interview. Our hope is that the film might somehow play a small part in furthering this hero’s dream for freedom and democracy in Bahrain.


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Umrah UK 11/05/2013 08:46

Can a heart patient use nitro spray with alcohol during tawaf-e-kaaba while performing umrah?
my husband he has to use nitro spray everyday to control angina pain to prevent sevsre heart attack. He has no other option. Its life line for him.I need to know from shia /Suni point of view. Thanks