On 21 October 2015, human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja could mark her 32ndbirthday by beginning combined prison sentences ofover five years if several cases against her are confirmed by a Bahraini appeals court.She has been free on bail since she was sentenced last December on a number of charges. This includes a three-year sentence for simplytearing up a picture of the monarch, considered a crime in Bahrain, and a one-year sentence for insulting a policeofficer. Please join theThunderclap campaign to help wish her a happy birthday and call for her conviction to be quashed so that she and her baby son don’t go to prison.
On 17 November, Zainab is also due in court after being convicted to a sentence of ninemonths for entering a restricted area, while seeking to visit her father Abdulhadi Al-Khawajain prison in August 2014. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, the Co-founder of the Gulf Centrefor Human Rights (GCHR) who is serving a life sentence for his human rights activities, was on hunger strike at the time.
The impact on the Al-Khawaja family has been extreme. Zainab has already more than a year in prison apart from her young daughter Jude; and her sister Maryam Al-Khawaja, GCHR Co-Director, is in exile and also spent almost a month in jail last year.
Families of prisoners of conscience pay a high price in Bahrain, and women human rights defenders are criticized for abandoning their children. Yet in this case, Zainab will join the list of other women who have been imprisoned with their children, facing the prospect of being jailed with a baby less than a year old.
Through her actions, Zainab was making a powerful statement to thousands of Bahrainis and human rights activists in the Gulf area and around the world; to whom Zainab(@AngryArabiya)tweeted:“Ripping his pic is a 1st step to let him know that we r not afraid, that we are determined to gain our rights, to live as free ppl #Bahrain”.
In support of the international right to freedom of expression, please join us to proclaim that tearing a photo is#NotaCrime. GCHR urges supporters worldwide to celebrate this courageous defender’s birthday on 21 October by wishing her #HappyBirthdayZainab and calling for her conviction to be quashed. GCHR aims to show solidarity for Zainab’s right to freedom of expression. Seeking to bring more attention to her case, GCHRasksallies and the international community to support her case and help keep her and her son Abdulhadi out of prison.
Al-Khawaja has thanked supporters on twitter, saying “My love and respect to all the people of Bahrain who continue to sacrifice every day so that someday our children can free. And thank you to all those who stand up and speak out on behalf of the people of Bahrain. You restore our faith in humanity.”
What can you do?
To participate in our campaign please join or Thunderclap campaign athttps://www.thunderclap.it/projects/33052-happybirthdayzainaband tweet a message or photo of support to @AngryArabiya and @GulfCentre4HRwith hashtags#NotaCrime and #HappyBirthdayZainab, starting the week before her birthday.A suggested tweet is “Wishing #HappyBirthdayZainab and calling for her convictions to be quashed. Tearing a photo is #NotaCrime”
We will also be sharing a video tribute to Zainab on her birthday which we’ll ask supporters to share.You can also watch and share the teaser for the documentary film “We are the Giant” featuring Maryam and Zainab Al-Khawaja at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1-5zbBqU8E
This campaign is endorsed so far by Amnesty International, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy (BIRD), Civicus: World Alliance for Civic Participation, European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR), European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR), Front Line Defenders, Index on Censorship,International Service For Human Rights (ISHR).
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