[JURIST] A Bahrain court ordered Saturday that prominent human rights activist, Maryam al-Khawaja [Human Rights First profile], remain in jail for an additional ten days while authorities continue to investigate her case. Al-Khawaja was jailed a week ago [AP report] when she arrived in Bahrain to visit her father who, in 2011, was sentenced to life in prison for protesting against the Bahraini government [BBC profile]. Al-Khawaja denies charges that she assaulted a police officer while being questioned upon her arrival to the country. The US Department of State [official website] has expressed concern about Al-Khawaja’s detainment and claims it is closely monitoring the situation.
Al-Khawaja’s arrest is a continuance of the political unrest [Foreign Affairs backgrounder] Bahrain has seen since the country forcibly ended the largest popular uprising in its history in 2011. Anti-government protesters continue to push for reform, causing enduring tension between the ruling Sunni al-Khalifa regime and its mostly Shiite popular opposition. UN rights experts have recently expressed concern over the latest surge of arrests of human rights activists in Bahrain and, on Friday, appealed [JURIST report] to the Bahraini government for al-Khawaja’s release arguing a lack of evidence. Al-Khawaja, in conjunction with the Bahrain Center for Human Rights [advocacy website], has been advocating for democracy and human rights in Bahrain in accordance with international norms.