Bahrain arrests prominent human rights activist and her child

Bahrain arrests prominent human rights activist and her child
Bahraini human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja was taken from her home with her 16-months-old child by police on Monday. Meanwhile, Bahrain has handed out life-long prison sentences to 'terror' suspects.
2 min read
14 March, 2016
Al-Khawaja is a mother of two who has previously served time in prison [AFP]
Bahrain police broke into the home of prominent human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja on Monday, taking away the campaigner and her one-year-old child, according to an urgent tweet posted on her account.

Security forces entered Khawaja's apartment around 3:45pm local time today. They took her and her 16 month old son, Hadi, to al-Hoora police station.
US-based Human Rights First have issued a statement condemning the arrest.

"Human Rights First is alarmed at reports that prominent Bahraini human rights defender Zainab al-Khawaja and her baby were seized from her home today by security officers," the statement read.

"This is a terrible development," said Human Rights First's Brian Dooley. "Taking her back into custody only deepens Bahrain's political crisis. She's a symbol of peaceful, thoughtful protest. The USgovernment should immediately and publicly call for her release."

Khawaja has been arrested and released from jail several times since December 2011. She has previously spent almost a year and a half in prison.
Al-Khawaja was previously sentenced to three years in prison for ripping up a photo of the king in court.

She was previously sentenced to three years in prison, on charges of "insulting" Bahrain's King Hamad al-Khalifa after she ripped up his photo in court, although the sentence was later reduced.

At the time, Khawaja's family told Amnesty International that if she is imprisoned she intends to keep her baby son - just under a year old- with she serves her sentence.

Khawaja's father Abdulhadi is serving a life sentence following his human rights' activism during the 2011 pro-democracy protests in Bahrain.

Life in prison

Separately, a Bahraini court Monday sentenced three people to life in prison for possessing weapons which they planned to use to carry out a "terrorist" plot, the prosecution said.

Dozens of people have been put on trial and handed lengthy jail terms since Bahrain - which is ruled by a Sunni royal dynasty - was shaken by unrest five years ago, mostly by the island's majority Shia population.

Despite the crackdown on the 2011 uprising, protesters continue to clash frequently with police in Shia villages outside the capital Manama.

The first defendant was arrested in the Shia-majority village of Sitra where police found "firearms and explosives" in his apartment, said prosecutor Ahmed al-Hammadi.

He said the man was planning to use the weapons to carry out a "terrorist" plot.

The other two were jailed for their involvement in the same case.

Bahrain last week jailed three people for life and sentenced another to 15 years for attacking a bus during a protest in a Shia-majority village two years ago.

Agencies contributed to this story.