Wife of Bahrain hunger-striker Abdulhaldi al-Khawaja accuses hospital of force-feeding

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Bahraini Shiite Muslims holding up banners in an April 17 demonstration calling for cancellation of the upcoming Bahrain F1 Grand Prix.

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The wife of jailed Bahraini activist and hunger striker Abdulhaldi al-Khawaja has accused the authorities of force-feeding and using other life-saving measures on her husband against his will.

Al-Khawaja, Bahrain’s most prominent human rights activist, is one of more than a dozen men jailed on charges of leading an uprising in the island nation last year, and has refused food since February 8.

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He was moved from prison to a military hospital for treatment three weeks ago. His wife, Khadija al-Mousawi, was granted her first visit to her husband in two weeks on Sunday, and told Reuters he had been drugged and force-fed:

“I went to see my husband today and he told me that he was drugged last Monday,” she said. “After he woke up he found two IV [intravenous] injections in his arms and a feeding-tube down his nose. It was done against his will.”

A spokesperson for the Bahrain Defence Forces Hospital denied the claims, according to the Agence France Presse:

“In response to claims made by Abdulhaldi al-Khawaja’s family members today, we want to be clear that the patient has not been force-fed or treated against his will,” the spokesperson said.

Al-Khawaja has been taking “limited nutrition supplements voluntarily, but when his blood sugar dropped significantly today, his doctors asked for and received his consent to insert a naso-gastric tube for nutrition. At no time was he drugged or restrained,” the spokesperson added.

Al-Khawaja and seven other opposition figures received life sentences in prison last year as part of a crackdown on mass Shiite protests by the minority Sunni regime. An appeal hearing on the sentences is to be held on Monday.

Earlier this month, the Bahraini authorities rejected a request by Denmark to take custody of al-Khawaja, who also holds Danish citizenship, according to the Associated Press

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