Maryam Al Khawaja


This morning, British Airways staff at Copenhagen airport barred Bahraini human rights activist Maryam Al Khawaja from boarding a flight to London Heathrow from where she was booked to take a connecting flight to Bahrain. Al Khawaja, who is a dual national with both Danish and Bahraini citizenship, had publicly announced her plans to fly to Bahrain to monitor large-scale anti-government protests planned for August 14. She is the acting director of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

It seems very likely that the Bahraini government used some means to  induce a British airline to prevent a Danish citizen from boarding a UK-bound plane in Denmark and then travelling on to Bahrain. This ban violates Al Khawaja’s right to freedom of movement and, as a Bahraini citizen, to enter Bahrain.

International law stipulates that “there are few, if any, circumstances in which deprivation of the right to enter one's own country could be reasonable.”

Unfortunately, the Bahraini authorities have a long record of violating international law, with another example earlier this week. 

On August 6, Bahrain indefinitely suspended the right to assembly in the capital Manama when a royal decree codified in law one of the Draconian recommendations that Bahrain’s parliament made to King Hamad on July 28. The Bahraini authorities are taking every possible step to ensure that there is no repeat of the 2011 anti-government protests, which were violently put down and left 35 dead, according to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. This latest incident in Copenhagen suggests that if the Bahraini authorities can’t stop the protests, they don’t want people like Al Khawaja reporting on their response.