[QODLink]
Middle East
Bahrain says hunger striker in 'good health'
Condition of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, now on 77 days without food, has drawn concern from UN chief and Danish government.
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2012 20:47

A jailed activist on a hunger strike since early February is in "good health" and receiving medical care, Bahraini officials have said, responding to claims from opposition groups that his condition was sharply deteriorating.

The statement by Bahrain's Interior Ministry came after social media postings raised alarms about the fate of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who has been on hunger strike since February 8.

Khawaja's wife, Khadija al-Mousawi, told the Reuters news agency her husband had failed to call on Tuesday from the military hospital where he is being monitored during his hunger strike and she was unable to obtain any information on his health on Wednesday.

"Something is very wrong," Mousawi said. "He was talking about accepting death as the path of freedom. He sounded very weak and tired," she added, referring to her last conversation with Khawaja on Monday.

Khawaja, 51, and seven other Shia activists were sentenced to life in prison last year.

The convictions were part of Bahrain's crackdown during the 14-month-old uprising by the country's Shia majority, which seeks to reduce the wide-ranging powers of the ruling Sunni dynasty.

The Interior Ministry statement described Khawaja as "in good health, despite rumors" and added that "he is in hospital, receiving full medical care".

Situation 'serious'

Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, expressed concern over "continuing clashes" in Bahrain and called on authorities "to resolve Mr al-Khawaja's case based on due process and humanitarian considerations without any further delay", his office said.

On Monday, an appeals court delayed a decision until at least April 30 on efforts by Khawaja and others to challenge their convictions, which were issued by a military-led court.

Earlier this month, Bahrain rejected Denmark's request to take custody of Khawaja, who is also a Danish citizen.

On Monday, Danish Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal called the situation "very, very serious".

Khawaja has become a powerful rallying point for near daily protests in the strategic kingdom, which is home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet.

Western allies such as Britain and the US have offered only muted criticism of Bahrain for fear of alienating a trusted friend as well as its Saudi neighbour, which fears unrest could spread amongst Shias in the oil region of its Eastern Province.

In the latest violence, Bahraini authorities said an explosion wounded four police officers during clashes late Tuesday in one of the anti-government strongholds.

At least 50 people have been killed in Bahrain's protest-led violence since February 2011.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.