Zainab is whom I look forward to be!
(My letter to Helen Clarck @HelenClarkUNDP, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Administrator @UNDP)
My name is Asma Darwish (@eagertobefree), 21 years old. I am a human rights activist from Bahrain. I once was arrested while on a hunger strike for 12 days with two other women; Zainab AlKhawaja (@angryarabiya) and Sawsan Jawad (@sparweezj). The world and you might clearly remember the story of the three women who got arrested at the United Nation's office in Manama, Bahrain, 15th of June, 2011.
(Left to right: @sparweezj, @eagertobefree, and @angryarabiya)
Just lately I knew that you had an essential role in our release from detention (Helen Clark comes to detainees' rescue). So I am writing this letter to you, to express my great sense of gratitude toward your act in order for us, three activists, to be released from Bahraini prisons in June.
I am also writing to tell you what had happen to @angryarabiya, Zainab AlKhawaja, 27 years old and a mother of a 2 year old Jude.
Under the name of @angryarabiya Zainab has been very active on twitter during the Feb-March protests taking place in Bahrain (Zainab Al-Khawaja: on the Front Line in Bahrain ). After the crackdown on protesters last March, a number of members of her family were arrested, including her husband "Wafi AlMajed", uncle "Salah AlKhawaja", brother-in-law "Hussain Ahmed" and her Father "Abdulhadi AlKhawaja" on 9th of April (photo of her detained family members). Her father is a prominent Human Right defender in Bahrain, a former Regional Protection coordinator for the Middle East with Front Line and former President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). It is worth mentioning that all Zainab's detained family members were exposed to severe torture during their detention. In April 2011, Zainab sent an open letter to Obama (Letter of Zainab to Obama) and started a hunger Strike that lasted for 10 days where she gained international awareness to her cause and was the first of a long chin of hunger strikes in support to the Bahraini people.
With a heavy heart I am very sad to report to you, Helen, that @angryarabiya had been arrested again in 15th of December, 2011 while staging a peaceful sit-in in a roundabout in Budaiya- Bahrain. As according to Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) urgent appeal: "Bahraini security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters attempting to protest alongside a highway leading to the island kingdom’s capital. Zainab AlKhawaja has participated in this peaceful protest. She staged a sit-in on a roundabout with several women. The riot police have responded with shooting tear gas canister on the women where all of them left the place except Zainab. She continued her sit-in peacefully to exercise her right to freedom of expression in accordance to the declaration of the Human Rights. The police again shot tear gas canister, this time directly on Zainab.
The female police came toward Zainab and handcuffed her. As seen on recorded video and the attached photos, Zainab has been slapped and hit on the face, dragged from the handcuff itself on ground all the way through to the pavement then to the street, she had her Muslim head scarf removed from her head. It's very worrying the way she was ill-treated in public". Here is a (video of her detention).
Dear Helen, Zainab is a very brave young woman. And 15th of June (UN arrest) was the day when I figured out that just by having Zainab there, everything shall be fine. That day I truly believed that whenever @angryarabiya is around, there is an overwhelming sense of courage which covers up the entire place!
I learnt courage from her, and she taught me fundamentals on human rights. She was holding my hands while being in detention, to comfort me and assure to me that "it is going to get fine in the end, Asma".
Her enormous courage and braveness have always made me unsure of what she is and how could she be the person she is! How come she is this strong? How come she is so determined to what she wants? How come a woman could stand so strongly facing mercenaries with holding Bahrain flag in one hand and singing with victory on the other hand?
(Zainab in a protest in A'ali village, facing mercenaries alone!)
(@nooralderazi), a friend of mine wrote in her blog under the title of (Zainab Al Khawaja, Bahrain’s Alice Paul), that Zainab reminds her so much of Alice Paul (The American Human Rights Activist, Alice Paul).
(Alice Paul, January 11, 1885 – July 9, 1977)
Well, Zainab to me is a successful feminine model that may lead Bahrain toward a new era. She is the inspiration for thousands of women, here in Bahrain. Zainab is whom I look forward to be. Please, Helen, help her and the other 25 women who are detained in Bahrain due to practices of freedom of expression. Please, do help @angryarabiya and the rest!
18th of December, 2011