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The Journal Gazette

  • A Bahraini anti-government protester holds a poster as riot police, unseen, fire tear gas outside the home of jailed human rights activist Nabeel Rajab in Bani Jamra, Bahrain, on Saturday, March 23, 2013. Security forces in Bahrain fired tear gas to prevent protesters from reaching the house of Rajab, who is the focus of an international campaign seeking his release.(AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 11:46 am

Rights groups fears for hunger strikers in Bahrain

The Associated Press

Thirteen pro-democracy activists were sentenced to 10 years in jail Tuesday in Bahrain over allegations they attacked police officers in the latest fallout from protests that rocked the country more than two years ago.

Meanwhile, a rights group has expressed fears about a father and daughter who have been on hunger strike since March 17 to protest their detention in the Gulf nation. They had stopped taking water Sunday but resumed late Tuesday.

More than 60 people have been killed in more than two years of unrest inspired by the Arab Spring. Bahrain's Shiite majority is seeking a greater political voice in the strategic Sunni-ruled kingdom, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

An attorney Jassim Sarhan confirmed the 13 were sentenced Tuesday over charges they attacked two police officers and set fire to a police car. They are among dozens convicted of playing a role in the uprising.

In the case of the hunger strikers, Freedom House said in a statement it was "deeply concerned" for Zainab al-Khawaja and her father Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. It also called for authorities all political prisoners.

They went on "dry hunger strike" on Sunday after being denied a family visit in prison, it said.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights said doctors warned Zainab al-Khawaja that she risks "organ failure, cardiac arrest or coma" if she continues.

Al-Khawaja was sentenced to three months for insulting a public employee related to her calls for the release of her father, eight opposition figures given life sentences. Last year, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja went on a three-month hunger strike.