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Bahrain hunger striker's daughter arrested

From Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN
April 6, 2012 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
The Interior Ministry said Zainab al-Khawaja was arrested Thursday night
The Interior Ministry said Zainab al-Khawaja was arrested Thursday night
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has been on a hunger strike for about eight weeks
  • He is protesting his life sentence for participating in anti-government demonstrations
  • His daughter was detained outside Bahrain's Interior Ministry

(CNN) -- Authorities in Bahrain said Friday that they've arrested the daughter of a human rights activist who has drawn international attention and widespread protests with a hunger strike that he's sustained for nearly two months.

Zainab al-Khawaja was detained outside the Interior Ministry complex, said her lawyer, who is also representing her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja.

Her father is striking to protest the life sentence he received for his alleged role in the unrest that continues to embroil his country.

The elder activist was arrested last April for his role in anti-government demonstrations in Bahrain in February and March. In June, he and seven other Shiite opposition activists were found guilty of plotting to overthrow the country's Sunni royal family.

The Interior Ministry said Zainab al-Khawaja was arrested Thursday night after it told her several times that she was in a restricted area "in which standing is prohibited." The ministry also said she "attacked an on-duty public employee."

Pleas for activist on hunger strike

Their lawyer, Mohammed Al Jishi, said she had been calling out for her father, who was at the Interior Ministry complex and was to be moved to a military hospital because his condition was deteriorating. He said that the hunger striker was transferred to the hospital Friday, but that the government had not given his family permission to see him. They were told of the transfer Friday.

Al Jishi has expressed concerns that his client could soon die and that the last time he saw him was two days ago.

The Interior Ministry's general inspector said that "all policies and procedures of the prison facilities in Bahrain meet international human rights standards, and all detainees have consistent and reliable access to professional medical care," according to a statement from Maj. Gen. Tariq H. Al Hasan, a spokesman for the ministry.

On March 30, the government reported that Abdulhadi al-Khawaja had low blood pressure and was taken to Bahrain Defense Force Hospital, where he was treated and returned to Jau Prison the following day.

Records showed that al-Khawaja had lost about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) and had a low hemoglobin level, though not critically low, the government said. He was also reportedly taking fluids, mineral supplements, glucose and juice on a daily basis.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights, a nonprofit human rights group started by al-Khawaja and for which his other daughter, Maryam, works, has appealed for his immediate release on humanitarian grounds.

Demonstrators and Bahraini authorities have continued to clash in recent months, with the opposition accusing the government of using heavy-handed tactics.

CNN's Ashley Gallagher and Alden Mahler Levine contributed to this report

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