Maryam al-Khawaja, the notable Bahraini human rights defender and subject of We Are the Giant (2014 SFF), was arrested August 30 upon her arrival in Manama, Bahrain, on charges of assaulting a police officer – which she refutes – and other alleged crimes related to her work in human rights. Maryam was returning to see her ailing father and longtime activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is currently on a hunger strike while serving a lifetime sentence for charges stemming from human rights demonstrations in 2011.
Maryam is a dual Bahraini-Danish national, but her Bahraini citizenship has now been stripped, and she is being held in jail for seven days as the government builds a case against her. Now, the film team behind We Are the Giant is soliciting help in spreading awareness around Maryam’s arrest with the goal of pressuring the Bahraini government into her release.
The scene is not dissimilar from the one that played out during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, where Maryam’s presence with We Are the Giant in Park City, Utah, provided impetus for the release of her sister Zainab, who served much of last year in Isa Town Detention – where Maryam is currently held – for peacefully standing her ground against riot police.
“There are two kinds of heroes. There are heroes who preach, and there are heroes who do. They are the people who don’t ask you to go and stand in the front lines; they do it themselves.” –Maryam al-Khawaja