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Obama Still Silent on Civil Rights Activists Dying in Bahrain

As thousands marched in the funeral for Salah Abbas Habib, the father of five who was killed by Bahraini security forces, word came that the government also once again delayed the appeal hearing for the fourteen leading civil rights activists including AlKhawaja. The delay further threatens AlKhawaja who is in the 75th day of a hunger strike.

Amnesty International summed up the delay saying:

“The Bahrain authorities’ delaying tactics are toying with the life of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is on death’s doorstep as he enters his 75th day on hunger strike,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International.

“He and the 13 other defendants in this case are prisoners of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression amid anti-government protests last year.”

The activist has said he intends to continue his hunger strike until he is released, yet there is virtually no hope he will be released before April 30, which severely heightens concerns for his survival.

No reason was given for this additional delay – the hearing was originally scheduled for April 2.

AlKhawaja’s daughter Zeinab (@angryarabiya) is also jailed for protesting her father’s imprisonment and treatment and will be held seven days on charges of disrupting traffic.

Salah Abbas Habib’s family received his body back today and noted that the coroner’s report “concluded that Habib died of birdshot wounds to the chest and abdomen.

“We just got the body back. He had birdshot wounds in his chest and abdomen,” Hussein Abbas Habib [his brother] said by telephone from Manama, adding that the body also had bad bruises on the hands, back and legs.

Examination of the body suggests that the shotgun wounds were made at very close range as the pellets did not have time to disperse. (more here – warning: graphic images)

The Guardian notes that:

Riot police have attacked mourners at Habib’s funeral in Bilad al-Qadim with teargas and water canon, activists claim. Thousands lined the streets of the town, about 3km south-west of the capital Manama. Activists claimed Habib’s body was only handed over to his family today to prevent the funeral taking place during the grand prix.

The delay is significant because Islamic funerals are traditionally held within 24 hours.

And all of this happened on the day that Obama appeared at the Holocaust Museum speaking of new sanctions and concern for those who suffer from government oppression. Of course, he did not mention Bahrain or express any concern for the civil rights activists dying there.

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Siun is a proud Old Town resident who shares her home with two cats and a Great Pyrenees. She’s worked in media relations and on the net since before the www, led the development of a corporate responsibility news service, and knows what a mult box is thanks to Nico. When not swimming in the Lake, she leads a team working on sustainability tools.

Email: media dot firedoglake at gmail dot com