Gulf Daily News - 13 December 2005

By KANWAL TARIQ HAMEED

AN APPEAL for protection by a human rights activist currently on hunger strike in Bahrain has been taken up by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), it was revealed yesterday.

President of the now dissolved Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) Abdulhadi Al Khawaja began a hunger strike on November 30, calling for UN intervention "in preventing further assaults on human rights defenders and to bring violators to justice". He is not eating, but is drinking water, milk and juice, his wife Khadija Al Mousawi said yesterday.

Mr Al Khawaja appealed to UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders Hina Jillani for "an urgent response and intervention", after allegations of the kidnapping and abuse of a member of the Unemployment Committee and intimidation of two other members.

"We have received the information and clearly the situation is one that falls within our mandate," a representative for Ms Jillani at the OHCHR in Geneva, Switzerland, told the GDN.

Mr Al Khawaja also claims in the appeal that he was subjected to physical assault by masked special security forces on December 3, during a march to the Royal Court and arrested and released on the same day.

The Interior Ministry has denied that any police or security forces were involved in the alleged attack on 24-year-old Moussa Abda'ali. He claims he was snatched and beaten up on November 27 by armed men in civilian clothing. The ministry has pledged to catch the culprits.