Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja

What’s the standard protocol when someone speaks out against human rights abuses against the government? Well, if you’re the Bahraini government, you direct your police force to brutally beat human rights activists during “warrantless predawn raids.”

At about 2 a.m., according to al-Khawaja’s daughter, Zainab al-Khawaja, about 15 masked men, armed and mostly in black uniforms, forced open the doors to the building where she lives in the village of Muqsha, and stormed into her fourth-floor apartment after breaking the door with a sledge hammer. They grabbed Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja by the neck and hustled him and two sons-in-law, Wafi al-Majid and Hussein Ahmed, to a third-floor landing where they beat and kicked them.

I guess the Bahraini government is afraid what happened in Egypt is going to happen in Bahrain. Not surprisingly, they are responding by arresting peaceful protesters, killing people, making nightly raids and invading households; you know, the standard response.

It would be shocking if the Bahraini government actually allowed democracy to take place. Unfortunately for Mr. al-Khawaja and countless others, I don’t see that happening based on recent events.

I join Human Rights Watch in urging the Baharaini government to respect the rights of all its citizens. The first step would be releasing Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, along with sons-in-law and many others who have been targeted for exercising their rights to protest for better change. The second step would be to allow these peaceful demonstrators to protest without being harassed or intimidated.

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