Font Size

- Aa +

Wed 2 May 2012 04:32 PM

Font Size

- Aa +

Bahrain activist's hunger strike to go on, despite retrial

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is demanding freedom or death after being given a life sentence

Bahrain activist's hunger strike to go on, despite retrial

Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has said he will continue his 84-day hunger strike despite a court order for his retrial earlier this week.

The imprisoned political campaigner is demanding “freedom or death” according to his daughter, and will continue to refuse food until his life sentence is retracted.

In a five minute interview with the BBC at the hospital where he is being held, Khawaja said he had been a human rights activist for 30 years, but only by peaceful means.

Khawaja, 51, began his hunger strike on February 8 this year after receiving a life sentence from a military tribunal last June for allegedly plotting against the state.

Earlier this week, Bahrain's highest court threw out his conviction and ordered a retrial at a civilian court for him and 20 other activists.

But his family says this week’s ruling is not enough, and that authorities are merely trying to buy time amid international pressure from the UN to resolve the situation.

They say that none of the activists should have been imprisoned in the first place.

"They are playing for time, and should have transferred his case to a civilian court at the first hearing not the third," his wife told the BBC.

His daughter said her father was ready to give up his life, and was not interested in a retrial.

Despite this week’s decision to abandon the previous sentence, Khawaja has not been released on bail, and is being kept at a Bahraini hospital where his family says he was force-fed through a tube for five days.

He finally agreed to be fed by IV [intravenous drip] and is now drinking fluids.

Khawaja said his medical treatment had been good "except for the force-feeding”. Officials have denied such action.