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Prominent opposition activist Zainab al-Khawaja leaves Bahrain after threats

The prominent opposition activist announced Saturday she has left Bahrain [AFP]

Date of publication: 11 June, 2016

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Bahraini rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja has left the kingdom with her two children for Denmark after receiving undisclosed threats, she announced on Saturday.
Bahraini Shia activist Zainab al-Khawaja, who was released from jail this week on "humanitarian" grounds, has become the latest protester from the tiny island kingdom to go into exile five years after its Arab Spring demonstrations.

Khawaja has left with her two children for Denmark, where she also holds nationality.

The prominent opposition activist announced in a series of Twitter posts on Saturday that she has left Bahrain after receiving undisclosed threats.

"It pains me to leave, but I leave carrying our cause on my back and my love for my country in my chest," she tweeted.

The "regime that thinks exile means moving us away from our land should know, we carry Bahrain in our hearts wherever we go," she added.

Khawaja was detained on 14 March and faced three years in prison on charges related to her participation in anti-government protests.

She was in prison with her 17-months-old son prior to her release on "humanitarian grounds," according to the Bahraini authorities.

Khawaja was jailed for three years and one month on charges including tearing up the monarch's picture and insulting a police officer, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights said.

The activist said Bahrain was preparing to file new charges against her that would have made her detention "indefinite."

She is the daughter of well-known activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who himself is serving a life sentence over his role in the protests that saw the island's Shia majority and others demand more political freedom from its rulers. 

Bahrain's government and its state-run news agency did not immediately comment on Khawaja leaving the country.

Bahrain crushed the 2011 protests after several weeks with the help of troops from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

In the time since, the island has faced low-level unrest, protests and attacks on police.

Other prominent opposition figures and human-rights activists remain imprisoned. 

Some have had their citizenship stripped by the government and been deported.

Agencies contributed to this report

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