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Bahraini activist continues hunger strike

May 1, 2012 at 4:15 PM
| License Photo

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 1 (UPI) -- Authorities in Bahrain should grant human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja access to a lawyer of his choosing, a U.N. human rights official said.

A court in Bahrain this week said the civilian courts would retry 21 activists, including Khawaja. Sentenced to life in prison for allegedly plotting against the government, Khawaja has been on a hunger strike since Feb. 8.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. rights commission, said Khawaja should be given more basic privileges.

"He should be given immediate access to his family, the Danish ambassador, a doctor and a lawyer of his own choosing," he was quoted by the BBC as saying.

Khawaja holds Danish citizenship.

The BBC was granted access to the rights activist for 5 minutes in his prison cell. He vowed to continue with his hunger strike, though he's getting nutritional supplements. His wife, Khadija al-Moussawi, claims he's being fed against his will.

At least 50 people were killed during an uprising led predominately by Shiite minorities last year. The Sunni-led monarchy is said to be investigating recommendations outlined by an independent commission, though it's been criticized for its human rights record.

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