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Bahraini government refuses to let infant out of jail

Bahraini political activist Zainab al-Khawaja holds her 17-month-old son, Abdulhadi (file photo)

Bahrain has rejected a request by prominent prisoner Zainab al-Khawaja to take her baby boy out of jail even though she is sick and cannot take care of him.

The 32-year-old mother, imprisoned in March, had asked authorities to hand over her 17-month-old son, Abdulhadi, to his father because she is suffering from the flu, the Persian Gulf Center for Human Rights said on Monday. 

The center said Abdulhadi’s father went to the prison a day earlier to take his son but was told it “was not allowed.” Prison authorities even refused to let Khawaja’s mother, Khadija al-Mousawi, see her grandson, it added.

“It has become clear to me that my grandson Abdulhadi is no longer only accompanying Zainab in prison, but is rather a prisoner himself who cannot leave regardless of the situation,” said Mousawi.

Bahraini political prisoner Zainab al-Khawaja

Khawaja was arrested in her apartment in the Bahraini capital city of Manama on March 14 and taken into custody along with her baby boy.

Khawaja faces a number of charges, including tearing up pictures of Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. She is currently serving a three-year-and-one-month prison sentence.

She is the daughter of leading human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is himself serving a life sentence over the accusation that he plotted to overthrow the ruling regime.

In March 18, Michel Forst, the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, made a plea to Manama to immediately release Zainab.

Bahraini protesters hold up placards depicting portraits of top opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman during clashes with riot police in Sitra, Jan. 29, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Back in April 20, Khawaja wrote a letter about her dire conditions in prison.

“If nothing changes for the people of Bahrain, then my staying in jail or release is not of great consequence. I am a mother with a job. I will carry my baby with me and continue on my path, so that I can clothe him in resilience and feed him in dignity,” she wrote in the letter.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on the streets of Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for the Al Khalifa family to relinquish power.

Bahraini regime forces, backed by troops deployed from Saudi Arabia, have cracked down on the protesters, killing scores of them. A large number of Bahraini activists are also serving time behind bars.

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