Bahrain releases women’s rights activist

zainabalkhawaja-md2016-websitecoverWe are thrilled to announce that Bahraini women’s rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja and her infant son were released from prison on May 31, 2016.

Zainab, a 29-year-old Bahraini women’s rights activist and mother of two, was arrested in March 2016 at her home and taken to jail, along with her then 15-month-old baby. Her crime? Ripping up a picture of Bahrain’s King Hamad and “insulting” a police officer. For this, she was sentenced to three years in prison.

Follow her arrest, and with rapid support from Urgent Action Fund, human rights organizations in Bahrain and around the globe launched an international advocacy campaign calling for Zainab’s immediate release. The campaign reached a network of more than 1.4 million people through a coordinated social media campaign and a joint letter of solidarity signed by more than 100 human rights organizations worldwide. In addition to the online campaign, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for Zainab’s release during a visit to the Middle Eastern country in April. 

While the decision by Bahraini authorities to release Zainab and her son on “humanitarian” grounds is a step forward, activists throughout the country continue to face severe human rights violations, and dozens continue to serve lengthy jail terms for speaking out against corruption and injustice.