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Video blog -Bahrain uprising: a woman activist speaks out

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 22 Dec 2011 13:14 GMT
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Maryam Al- Khawaja struck me not only as extremely acute and witty but also wise for a 24 year-old.

We met at London's Royal College of Surgeons for a talk on the role of women in the Arab revolutions hosted by the Frontline Club.

The daughter of prominent Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja is the Head of the Foreign Relations Office Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and a prominent human rights campaigner herself (with more than 36,000 followers on Twitter).

A Brown University Fulbright scholar, Maryam now divides her life between Europe and the U.S., speaking at conferences on human rights,  shedding a light on the violent repression that pro-democracy protesters face in Bahrain.

Maryam can't go back home, she fears Bahraini authorities will jail her as soon as she sets foot in her country, just as they did to her father and sister.

Earlier this year, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja was arrested, beaten and later sentenced to life imprisonment. Her 28-year-old sister Zainab al-Khawaja was jailed less than two weeks ago as she was taking part in a pro-democracy demonstration in Bahrain's capital Manama.

Just days before being arrested, Zainab - whose husband is also in jail - did an interview with New York Times reporter and opinionist Nicholas Kristoff, in which she spoke about the regime's human rights violations and abuses.

Pro-democracy protests in Bahrain began in February 2011, following the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, and have carried on consistently since then with more than 300,000 Bahraini taking to the streets. The Kingdom's regime has been accused of using excessive force and torture in its crackdown on protesters.

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