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Written by HRDs and Journalists
GCHR opens its Copenhagen office while co-founders remain behind bars in Bahrain
15 October 2012 - On a day marked by both hope and sadness, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) opened its international office in Copenhagen. While noting the Centre’s many achievements during its first year, advisory board members lamented the absence of two of its co-founders, imprisoned in Bahrain.
“The Centre needs a platform to engage with international NGOs and Western governments to protect human rights defenders in the Gulf, many of whom have been persecuted for speaking out about human rights violations,” said Maryam Al-Khawaja, GCHR Deputy Director. Her father Danish-Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is serving a life sentence in Bahrain for his role in organizing peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations last year.”
“It is fitting that we are here today in Copenhagen where I first met Abdulhadi in the 1990s, when he was in exile in Denmark for his human rights activities,” said GCHR advisory board member Joe Stork.
Also missed was co-founder Nabeel Rajab, who is appealing a three-year sentence tomorrow for engaging in peaceful demonstrations in Bahrain. “When we planned this event, we fully expected Nabeel to be here with us today,” said GCHR advisory board member Kristina Stockwood. “But he is very proud of the work of the Centre’s staff and volunteers, who have accomplished so much – from missions, to reports, to training for human rights defenders, to leading regional campaigns.”
Director Khalid Ibrahim said the support of donors, such as the Arab Human Rights Fund, Hivos, International Media Support, NED and Sigrid Rausing Trust, allowed the Centre to carry out so many successful activities and open the Copenhagen office.