Thursday, May 31, 2012

Current #Alkhawaja Status

Again, so sorry for the delay! Working, interning, traveling, lacrosse-ing, etc. all really took there toll on what should've been a quick update.  Anyway, let's get down to business.

If you've been keeping up with Abdulhadi Alkhawaja without my posts - like tweeting, googling, checking other blogs, whatever - then you should know that as of two days ago, Alkhawaja has been quoted saying that he "will be ending" his hunger strike.  Pros: now he won't die from starvation.  Cons: despite the enormity of his hunger strike, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja is still unable to gain his freedom.  Pro2: the hunger strike - which lasted for 110 days - did shed some light on the plight of those living in Bahrain currently.

I mean, this whole blog started for me as a school project, and I never would've even known to look into Bahrain if I hadn't stumbled onto a twitter campaign for Alkhawaja.  And now, with his hunger strike ended, I want to focus on actually getting Alkhawaja out of jail, and helping others who are being victimized by the Bahraini regime. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm ecstatic that Alkhawaja's hunger strike is over and that he isn't starving himself to death anymore, but it's terrible that after everything he's been through he's still being held prisoner in jail.  Khader Adnan had his sentence shortened after his 66 day long hunger strike.  Hana Shalabi's hunger strike saw that she was released immediately, although she won't be able to officially return home until discussions concerning her behavior between Palestine and Israel are over.  And Abdulhadi Alkhawaja was on his hunger strike the longest, with multiple threats of murder and a brief disappearance, and his hunger strike hasn't helped his sentence at all.  He's still a prisoner.

Here's a link to Frankie Dolan's Bahrain campaign:
It'll give you some good ideas on what to focus on next.  Personally, I'm still gonna stay primarily focused on getting Alkhawaja and the other prisoners released, because it's grown very important to me.  That's not to say that I won't be focusing on other ways to help, because I will be.  I'm just gonna put a special focus on Alkhawaja and the other prisoners.


You can stay involved by following me on twitter.  I frequently retweet out updates on things going on in Bahrain.  Also, you can follow Frankie Dolan (@frankiedolan); she tends to have more up to date information on the happenings of Bahrain. 

I know this is a shorter post, and that a short post like this really shouldn't take that long, but this is all that I have to say on the matter at the moment.  I'll be back with more information and opinions and articles and links, etc. soon.

In the meantime, please help me at least spread the word of what's going on in Bahrain.  You can still write to Alkhawaja (as i mentioned in an earlier post) and other famous figures about Bahrain.

Thanks all!
Leslie out!

Friday, May 11, 2012


It's been a while.  I know.  School's been tough, and my internship is ramping up.  But have no fear! The Leslie and Mik blog is back! With some news on how you can help hunger striker Abdulhadi Alkhawaja.

Like Frankie Dolan (@frankiedolan), I, too, found out about Alkhawaja's story too late.  And similarly, all I did was blog and tweet about it.  I tried to spread the word, tried to get the media involved, but my actions were limited.  I bought into the stereotypical "I'm in high school, what can I do?" crock that allows people like me to do the bare minimum while still congradulating ourselves on a "job well done".  Well, I'm done with that.  Yes, it's still hard to do things for people you've never met who live on the other side of the world, but I won't let that stop me.

Right now, I'm writing for Alkhawaja.  I'm trying to get the attention of international organizations, celebrities, anyone who has the power to get Alkhawaja released. 

You can join in on Ms. Dolan's campaign, too!
On May 7th he stopped taking IVs (backstory: he had been forcibly fed for a few days prior to this).  No one has heard from him since.  I know that there's a chance he isn't alive, but there's also a chance that he is.  You can write to Alkhawaja, you can write to his family.  Or you can write to organizations, public figures, etc. to try and get them involved and invested in Alkhawaja.

Every bit helps.

Also, he's a new hashtag that you can use to post some positive videos, messages, etc. for Alkhawaja: it's #foralkhawaja.  If you internet savvy people need a refresher on hashtags, just stop by my twitter for a crash course in tweeting.

I'll try to have another post with some actual information on Alkhawaja's wearabouts, but it is difficult when the American media isn't reporting much and other newssources are clearly biased.

Until then, please help me and write to and for Alkhawaja! Go to my twitter or Ms. Dolan's twitter for more information on who to write to (actually go to her's because i'm pretty much just retweeting what she's saying).

Leslie out!
Please, help.  This is a really big deal.  It's no longer for my school project - that's over now.  This is to help save a man's life.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Alkhawaja "Update"

Well, not really.  It's another link.

I found this blog .  It's written by this woman, Frankie Dolan.  Here's her brief bio: I am the founder of MedWorm. Living in the UK. Web developer, mother of two and doctor's wife. Internet activist fighting for human rights, the environment and social justice. Recently drawn to the plight of the medics and the rest of the oppressed people in Bahrain.
Anyway.  She had this great post about the letters she wrote urging Alkhawaja to hang on and to not give up.  Her letter touched me, as she explained how much she loves him and believes in him. 

Ms. Dolan was inspired to write her letters to Alkhawaja after seeing what his daughter, Zainab al-Khawaja (@angryarabia), tweeted out on April 20th, 2012.

  • Urgent: My father called now, he asked us to try and get him an urgent visit by his lawyer to write his will
  • He said, if they won't allow the lawyer to see him, he has three things he would like everyone to know
  • 1st: he is completely convinced in what he is doing, and that he has chosen this path & wud choose it again if time goes back
  • 2nd: he asks that nobody attempts to go on a similar strike til death
  • Finally my father said "if I die, in the next 24 hrs, I ask the ppl to continue on path of peaceful resistance...
  • My father continued "... I don't want anybody to be hurt in my name"
  • My father has stopped drinking even water since yesterday
  • As my father finished saying his will to us, the line was cut. He did not say goodbye.

  • Here's the link to her specific blog post:
    So right now, I want to take a quick look at the other side of Alkhawaja's hunger strike.  I want to look at the lives he's touched.  Yes, this woman is an internet activist, but the point is that his hunger strike has reached people in Europe, in the US, not just people who live in Bahrain.  I don't want to sound preachy or fake, but Alkhawaja has touched my life as well.  I pray for him every night.  I tweet about him to try and spread his story to others.  I don't mean to sound more like a high school student than I already do but this is like my thing now.  I mean, not my main "thing", but I am invested in Alkhawaja's story.  I don't want him to die.

    Abdulhadi Alkhawaja has been injustly prisoned for his part in activism, and he is dying.  He's touched the lives of people that have never even met him.  Just like Ms. Dolan's blog post has spoken to me about his life more than my own research has, I hope that her posts and my posts and Alkhawaja's story reaches out to everyone and alerts people to the fighting and protests going on in Bahrain right now.

    Now, for a slightly different tone.

    Abdulhadi Alkhawaja's wife called his hospital room and found out that her husband is no longer in his room.  No one seems to know where he is.  There are rumors that he's receiving medical care and that's why he's not in his room, but no one can talk to him, no one knows where he is.  These are just rumors.  We can't confirm or deny them.

    But until we get solid evidence that Alkhawaja's alright (remember he's been on hunger strike for 77 days!!), we need to do everything we can for him.  Writing letters, informing others, ANYTHING.

    We need to be there for Bahrain, and for Alkhawaja.  We will not give up.  We will stand behind him. 

    Leslie, signing off...for now.
    Also, Ms. Dolan's twitter is @frankiedolan.  Follow her.

    Monday, April 23, 2012

    Mas Reflection Time

    I have some more reflection on what I've been blogging about, learning about in class, etc.  Get pumped!

    Well, despite living in the US and having the internet, books, newspapers, basically all these ways to get information on the hunger strikers, it's been kinda surprising at how hard it is to get information on Hana Shalabi, Khader Adnan, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, Hamza Kashgari, etc.  Like, one of the main websites that I use to at least start finding information is Twitter. And even then, it's hard to find accurate sources and unbiased ones.

    I guess this reflection is more about how I was surprised that even though I live in the US it was hard to find sources.  Maybe it was harder for me to find info on my hunger strikers BECAUSE I live in the US.  Now I'm just speculating here, but maybe since the hunger strikers are from Bahrain and Palestine, the US doesn't care (not care, but isn't paying enough attention to) the goings on in the Middle East.

    I feel like the US only focuses on the Middle East if it really concerns them.  Like, if I was researching nuclear weapons in the Middle East, I'm sure that I'd be able to find more articles about the topic.  I can't tell if it's popularity of the subject, or just the fact that this is a situation that everyone seems to know about.  The hunger strikers seem to be more important to the people from the Middle East who either knew them or who understand their plight.

    I don't feel as frustrated thinking about the lack of information on Hana Shalabi, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, or Hamza Kashgari (although he's not a hunger striker, our little social media rebel!) as I should.  I understand that their stories aren't ones that the American reporters wouldn't want to write about all the time.  They're interesting (i can't stop reading about them), but what's happening to them isn't necessarily affecting my life over here, like a bomb threat could.  I get that what's happening in the Middle East effects the Middle East, and other countries won't care as much unless it directly affects them.

    That sounds selfish.  But I understand the opinion.  Sort of.  Like, in my house, no one will lift a finger to help anyone clean unless it's that person's mess.  And that's what I'm seeing translated into this situation with the hunger strikers.  The only people who are really willing to help are other people from Bahrain, Palestinians, etc.  When we think like that, helping others is tough.

    Now, I don't want to turn this into a "everyone must love one another and dance in rainbows with SMILES" post, but we should still make an effort (a really big effort) to get these people freed.  They're in jail for practicing their beliefs.  I know if I was arrested for being Catholic, or speaking out about the death penalty, I'd be pretty pissed. 

    I guess I'm just trying to put myself in their shoes.  I really just want people to understand what's going on over there.  Well.  Sorta lost the Middle East bit in here.  Whoops.

    Leslie, signing off!
    Also, if anyone wants to get a dialogue or something going on about this, or wants to share some info they may have learned while looking up the hunger strikers, that'd be awesome.  Just saying.

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012


    Not a real update, just a link to an arabic newspaper updating us on Alkhawaja.  It's entirely in Arabic so I apologize for those of you (myself included) who will have to use google translate to stay informed.

    Leslie out!
    Another reflection post is coming up soon!

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012



    Sorry for all the caps lock, but this is some pretty big news!! She spent more than 40 days on hunger strike (i'm getting stomach pains just thinking about it) and is now being released from prison.  Unfortunately, she's not able to return home right now.  Instead, Hana's being kept in exile in Gaza until a deal can be made with Israeli authorities.

    Hana was released on Sunday.  She's the second Palestinian - after Khader Adnan - to challenge the terms of her "administrative detention."

    Although Hana's been released, she's not homeward bound yet.  She's gonna be confined to Gaza for three years. 

    And while Hana put her life on the line for her freedom, her battle hasn't done anything to warrant a change in Israeli policy.  Quoting the article here:

    "Mr Adnan was said to have been a leader of Islamic Jihad, an extremist organisation that has carried out suicide bombings and fired rockets from Gaza into southern Israel.
    Ms Shalabi is also said to belong to Islamic Jihad. When she entered Gaza on Sunday, supporters and leaders of the movement were waiting for her.
    Islamic Jihad did not welcome the deal made with the Israeli authorities but said it respected her decision."

    I'm not condoning suicide bombings, but the fact that she's at least being semi released from prison is still awesome.  It's irrelevant whether or not she is a member of the Islamic Jihad; she never should've been arrested like that and not told why she was in jail in the first place.  As far as I can see, starving herself was the only option to gain her freedom, and even now, Hana still isn't totally free.

    If anyone has any opinions on the circumstances surrounding Hana's arrest, hunger strike, and subsequent released, please let me know!

    Leslie, out for now! With more articles and reflections coming at you!
    Comment and share with your friends!

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    RWB: Enemies and Surveillance

    On the 12th of March, Reporters Without Borders released their 2012 edition of “Enemies of the Internet.” This report covers the most internet restricted countries, considered “enemies”, and countries with an extensive use of internet blocking referred to as “surveillance” countries. For the most part the 2012 edition is almost the same as the 2011 with just a few changes. The two biggest changes are Belarus and Bahrain being upgrade (or downgraded) from Surveillance to Enemies. Other changes include India and Kazakhstan being added to the surveillance list and Libya and Venezuela being removed from it. The full lists for 2012 and its 2011 predecessor go as follows.  

    2012                                        2011

    Enemies                                   Enemies

    Bahrain                                    Burma

    Belarus                                    China

    Burma                                     Cuba

    China                                       Iran

    Cuba                                        North Korea

    Iran                                          Saudi Arabia

    North Korea                            Syria

    Saudi Arabia                           Turkmenistan

    Syria                                        Uzbekistan

    Turkmenistan                          Vietnam



    2012                                        2011

    Surveillance                             Surveillance

    Australia                                  Australia

    Egypt                                      Bahrain

    Eritrea                                     Belarus

    France                                     Egypt

    India                                        Eritrea

    Kazakhstan                             France

    Malaysia                                  Libya

    Russia                                      Malaysia

    South Korea                            Russia

    Sri Lanka                                 South Korea

    Thailand                                  Sri Lanka

    Tunisia                                     Thailand

    Turkey                                     Tunisia

    United Arab Emirates             Turkey

                                                    United Arab Emirates


    The change of Belarus and Bahrain were fairly predictable. For those who don’t know Bahrain is an archipelago country off the coast of Saudi Arabia. Uprisings began back in February of last year, around the same time as the Arab spring. What started as a peaceful protest for political freedom and human rights lead to an uprising against the Monarchy after the police started to open fire on citizens. Of course this caused the government to tighten the reins on the internet. They were scared of the possibilities of an open internet with a country in revolt. This is pretty much the same reason that the other countries are on the list.

    Belarus, for any readers who were unaware, is good friends with Russia, such good friends that back in the 90’s they formed the Union of Russia and Belarus. Russia is considered “surveillance” and with the Belarusian Government being the weaker of the two it makes sense that it would have to censor more.

    India was added to the 2012 surveillance list. As far as I am aware the Indian censorship falls more along the lines of Australian censorship compared to Tunisian or South Korean censorship. It’s mostly censorship of nudity, sexual activities, religious things, and violence rather than governmental. There is also the infamous Kashmir.

    Libya was upgraded and taken off the surveillance list of 2012. Had the Libyan Revolution not been a success and if Gaddafi had not been overthrown, Libya could be in the Enemies list rather than off the list entirely. But because of the big changes in Libya this makes a lot of sense.

    So I don’t think there were any real surprises in this year’s list. What do you think? For more information you can go to Reports Without Borders’ own website at I was able to locate a 2011 pdf version of RWB whole report at I’ll keep my eye out for the full 2012 pdf to tweet out and post when it comes around.

    Thanks for reading,