Bahraini activist ending hunger strike, another activist is released

Story highlights

  • Abdulhadi al-Khawaja ends his hunger strike after 110 days, his daughter says
  • But al-Khawaja's protest continues, his attorney says
  • Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, is released on bail
Two Bahraini activists reached key turning points in their struggles Monday, as one ended a months-long hunger strike and another was released on bail.
Abdulhadi al-Khawaja will stop his hunger strike Monday evening and will begin nutritional rehabilitation to get back to normal eating, his attorney Mohamed Al Jishi said.
Nabeel Rajab, meanwhile, was released on 600 Bahraini dinars bail (nearly $1,600), according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.
For al-Khawaja, it is the end of 110 days on the hunger strike, his daughter Maryam al-Khawaja told CNN. He is in Jaw prison awaiting a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday. Al-Khawaja does not plan to attend, his daughter said.
While his protest continues, al-Khawaja feels he has attained the result of the hunger strike, which was to shed light on the plight of political detainees in Bahrain, the lawyer said. Also, he fears the government will force-feed him, Al Jishi said.
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A court previously quashed the life sentence against him, sending his case -- along with 20 others -- to the country's supreme court.
He was arrested in April 2011 for his role in anti-government demonstrations in his country as the Arab Spring movement swept across the region.
Al-Khawaja and the 20 other opposition activists were found guilty in June 2011 of plotting to overthrow the strategically important country's Sunni royal family.
Human Rights Watch last month accused police in Bahrain of regularly resorting to beating anti-government protesters, despite officials' pledges to stop such practices.
Nabeel Rajab, meanwhile, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, was arrested on May 5 upon his return to the Persian Gulf kingdom from Lebanon, according to the government and an activist group.
Maryam al-Khawaja is now acting president of the Bahrain group.
Rajab's case is ongoing, and he will probably face a travel ban, she said.
Rajab will resume his duties as president of the human rights organization, al-Khawaja said.
At the time of Rajab's arrest, the Interior Ministry said on its website that he was "detained under suspicion of committing several punishable crimes." The Information Affairs Authority said he is facing charges of "inciting illegal activities and defamation."
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights website said he was charged with "participating in illegal assembly and calling others to join" and could face further charges of "insulting the statutory bodies" for an incident that occurred on April 26. Rajab chose not to participate in his own trial, the group said.
The state-run Bahrain News Agency said last week that a criminal court had recommended releasing Rajab on bail, but hat he would stay incarcerated "awaiting trial in connection with another case, which is still under investigation on charges of participating in a gathering, and calling for a rally, contrary to the provisions of law."
The official news agency did not have a report on Rajab early Monday.
On Sunday, another activist, Hassan Oun, was released and is on probation, Maryam al-Khawaja said.
Demonstrations in Bahrain failed to gain the traction of other Arab Spring uprisings after a crackdown by authorities in the island state, backed by troops from nearby Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Last November, Bahrain's Independent Commission of Inquiry issued a report critical of authorities' reactions to the protests, which began in February 2011, spurred by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
Bahrain plays a key strategic role in the Middle East and is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet headquarters.