Bahrain hunger striker sees husband for first time in two months

Zainab al-Khawaja allowed to spend six minutes with her husband Wafu Almajed, who was arrested in April

he Bahraini hunger striker Zainab al-Khawaja, who staged a 10-day fast after her husband, father and brother-in-law were arrested. Photograph: Hasan Jamali/AP

The young Bahraini woman who became a prominent voice of the Arab uprisings after going on hunger strike to protest at the detention of relatives has described in a series of heart-rending tweets her first meeting with her husband in more than two months.

Zainab al-Khawaja, who staged a 10-day fast in April following the beating and arrest of her father, a leading human rights activist, and the arrest of her husband and her brother-in-law, described being allowed to spend just six minutes with Wafu Almajed.

Much of Khawaja’s overseas profile comes from her much-read and prolific updates under the Twitter moniker angryarabiya. Friday’s brief reunion, in which Khawaja was allowed to bring along the couple’s 20-month-old daughter, Jude, was described immediately afterwards in a series of breathless and emotional 140-character missives. Beginning, «Hi every1, at long last, finally, I have seen my husband,» Khawaja described being let into the jail in Manama, Bahrain‘s capital, by one of the police officers who arrested and beat up her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. He also remains in custody.

The description continued: «They took us to a room, after searching us. Then Wafi walked in. I dunno how to explain how I felt … We hugged Wafi, then he was asked to sit on a chair abt 4 mtrs away from us … There were at least 5 police with us in the small room, and 2 by the door. all looking and listening to us … I woke jude and walked over and put her in his lap. I cud tell he’s fighting tears … Wafi started singin Barneys ‘I love u song’ to jude, infront of all the police … Jude had just woken up and was staring at Wafi, probably surprised. Then wafi sang ‘if all the raindrops’ another of Judes favorites.»

In tweets before the visit Khawaja had speculated that the 70-day wait before she was allowed to see her husband could be to allow the physical signs of any mistreatment to fade. After visiting him she described seeing what appeared to be a series of old bruises around his face. Her husband did not ask about Khawaja’s father, she added, speculating that this could be because he had been ordered not to do so by police.

She ended the description of the visit: «Then he kept saying ‘jude has grown, she’s so much bigger. Does she talk? Wat can she say?’ … he asked abt family, asked me why I had lost so much weight. Asked if I was ok … The whole meeting was abt 6 minutes. The police said ‘visit is over’ … We hugged, he told me to take good care of jude, I told him to stay strong and pray. He smiled ‘don’t worry, all we do is pray.'»

Since ending her hunger strike Khawaja has continued to protest at the continued detention of her relatives. On Wednesday she was among three women arrested after staging a sit-in at a UN office in Manama. They were released the following day.

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