Bahrain detains Shi'ite rights activist on arrival at airport

Charges include insulting Bahrain's king, assaulting a policewoman at the airport
By Reuters
Sun 31 Aug 2014 09:46 AM

Bahraini authorities detained
prominent human rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja on Saturday on her arrival at
the Gulf state's airport, her mother told Reuters.

Maryam is the daughter of Shi'ite Muslim activist Abdulhadi
Abdulla Hubail al-Khawaja, who has been detained in the Sunni monarchy since
2011 and is on hunger strike.

"Maryam told me that she will be transferred to the
court tomorrow," her mother, Khadija al-Musawi, told Reuters, adding that
her daughter, who holds dual Bahraini and Danish citizenship, was coming back
from Denmark.

Charges against al-Khawaja include insulting Bahrain's king,
and assaulting a policewoman at the airport, her mother said.

Bahraini authorities were not immediately available to
comment but state news agency BNA cited chief prosecutor of al-Muharraq province,
Abdullah al-Dossary, as saying that the public prosecution had begun an
investigation into a complaint by Bahrain airport's police.

The complaint said that an "accused woman" had
been detained at the airport based on a previously issued arrest warrant. It
said that the accused had assaulted a lieutenant and a policewoman after she
refused to hand over her phone during a search. The report did not name
Khawaja.

Dossary was cited as saying that the accused was charged
with assaulting a public employee while carrying out his official duty and
would be detained for seven days pending an investigation.

Bahrain, a base for the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, has been in
turmoil since protests led by Shi'ite Muslims erupted in 2011 after similar
unrest in Egypt and Tunisia.

Shi'ites, who make up the majority of Bahrain's population,
complain of political and economic marginalisation, an accusation the
government denies. Talks between the government and opposition have failed
defuse the political tensions.

In July, Bahrain declared U.S. Assistant Secretary of State
for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Tom Malinowski, persona non grata after
he met opposition figures in the kingdom.

Under criticism from human rights groups, the government
invited an independent inquiry to examine its handling of the trouble in 2011.
Its report said the authorities had used widespread and excessive force,
including torture to extract confessions.

The Bahraini government says it has taken steps to address
the problems by dismissing those responsible and introducing cameras at police
stations.

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