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Bahrain Crackdown: Irish Human Rights Defender, Danish MP Refused Entry

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Local Editor

Irish human rights campaigner Brian Dooley and Danish MP Lars Aslan Rasmussen were held who for more than 12 hours in Bahrain International Airport after they travelled there to visit jailed Bahraini-Danish human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja.

Aslan - Dooley

Dooley, who was refused entry to Bahrain, has had his passport taken off him by security officials there.

Al-Khawaja was a prominent prodemocracy campaigner in Bahrain, who founded the Gulf Centre for Human Rights and was formerly a Middle East and North Africa Protection Coordinator for the Dublin-based group Front Line Defenders.

He received a life sentence in April 2011 for charges of terrorism and attempting to overthrow the government.

In this regard, UK-based Dooley, who is from Dingle in Co Kerry, told "This week marks seven years since Al-Khawaja was arrested.

"We came to show that Al-Khawaja and the other human rights activists in prison are not forgotten, and to remind the Danish government that it should be pressing much harder for his release."

Four hours after the pair arrived at the airport, they were informed they would not be allowed into the country but officials have still not given them their passports back.

"We're still in the airport, we've been here for twelve hours now, it's a chicken and egg situation because they don't want us to come into the country but they won't give us our passports back so we can't leave."

"We haven't been told when we'll get our passports back and they're useless to them anyway," Dooley said.

Dooley is a member of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights and a senior advisor with Human Rights First, he claims he has been banned from Bahrain for six years for documenting human rights abuses.

He said he thinks it's vital to continue this work, saying: "Bahrain needs to be constantly challenged about it torture, its targeting of human rights activists, its banning of the political opposition."

"Preventing members of parliament, human rights groups and journalists from entering the country shows how much the regime has to hide," Dooley added.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team