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Maryam Al-Khawaja


بحرينُ والديّ

‪]‬صورة صياد في البحرين‪[‬

أكتب هذا ليس بصفتي مدافعة عن حقوق الإنسان كما هو معروف عني، بل بصفتي إبنة والدين بحرينيين رسما لنا صورة مثالية للبحرين منذ أن كنا صغاراً نكبر في المنفى بالدنمارك. كوني قد ولدت في سوريا لوالدين ناشطين قد أُجبرا على مغادرة البحرين، ثم العيش في الدنمارك، لم أكن أعرف البحرين التي لطاما حكى عنها والديّ حتى انتقلنا هناك عندما كنت في الرابعة عشرة من العمر. كان المجتمع البحريني في الدنمارك صغيراً نوعا ما، يتكون من إحدى وعشرين عائلة. فعل والدانا كل ما بوسعهما للتأكد من كوننا نتربى في ...

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My Parents' Bahrain

[Image of fishermen in Bahrain. Image by @s_aljaresh.]

I write this not as the human rights defender I have become known as, but rather as the daughter of Bahraini parents who painted an ideal image of Bahrain for us since we were children growing up in exile in Denmark. This reflection was prompted following my recent attempt at traveling to Bahrain when British Airways prevented me from boarding my flight at the orders of the Bahraini government. The realization that I am no longer in self-imposed exile triggered images of the ...

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Bahrain As I Remember It

[An image from a protest in Bahrain on 14 February 2013. Image provided by author.]

On that day, 14 February 2011, there was a sense that things would change. The energy of the crowd was electric and contagious. The frustration that had built up for years unfolded in the form of peaceful protests in Pearl Square—the revolutionary space that had housed hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis for months, and had been subsequently destroyed by authorities. On that day, 14 February 2011, history repeated itself in Bahrain, as the sources of power repressed the ...

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Maryam Al-Khawaja


Maryam al-Khawaja is currently the Acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, as the president, Nabeel Rajab, is in prison. Ordinarily Alkhawaja is the Vice President and Head of International Office for the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. AlKhawaja is also the co-Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights. In Bahrain, al-Khawaja played an instrumental role in the democratic protests taking place in the Pearl Roundabout in February 2011, which triggered a government response of widespread extra judicial killings, arrest, torture, discrimination, sackings, fear to suppress dissent, and quell voices for reform. She is the daughter of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, the founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, who went on a 110 day hunger strike protesting human rights violations and was among a group of high-profile activists and opposition leaders sentenced to life imprisonment in June 2011. She is also the sister of Zainab al-Khawaja, an independent activist, who is currenly serving a number of prison sentences for her activism. Although she has since left Bahrain to play her role in the BCHR and to avoid arrest and/or imprisonment, she remains very connected to events on the ground and has emerged as a leading voice for human rights and political reform in Bahrain and the Gulf region. She has been influential in shaping official responses to the atrocities in Bahrain around the world by engaging with prominent European and American policymakers in her advocacy efforts.