June 11, 2016
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A prominent activist in Bahrain said early Saturday she left the tiny island kingdom after recently being freed from prison, the latest protester to go into exile five years after its Arab Spring demonstrations.
Zainab al-Khawaja is the daughter of well-known activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who himself is serving a life sentence over his role in the protests that saw the island’s Shiite majority and others demand more political freedom from its Sunni rulers.
In a series of messages on Twitter, al-Khawaja said she had left the country. Her family confirmed she left with two children to Denmark, where she also has citizenship. The “regime that thinks exile means moving us away from our land should know, we carry (hashtag)Bahrain in our hearts wherever we go,” she wrote.
Al-Khawaja was detained March 14 and faced three years in prison on charges related to her participation in anti-government protests, including tearing up pictures of Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. She was in prison with her infant son, Abdulhadi, prior to her release.
Al-Khawaja said Bahrain was preparing to file new charges against her that would have made her detention “indefinite.” Bahrain’s government and its state-run news agency did not immediately comment on al-Khawaja leaving the country.
Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, crushed the 2011 protests after several weeks with the help of troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In the time since, the island has faced low-level unrest, protests and attacks on police.
Other prominent opposition figures and human-rights activists remain imprisoned. Some have had their citizenship stripped by the government and been deported.