Bahrain: The government continues to attack journalists and target press freedom



Bahrain correspondent of France 24 and Radio Monte Carlo International,  Nazeeha Saeed, this peaceful journalist exposed, blindfolded,  to a brutal and inhuman torture at the hands of an woman police officer and four policewomen in Riffa police station after illegally arrested on 22 May 2011.She found, when the blindfold fell off her eyes due to severe torture, that the policemen officers were there observing the scene very coldly.

And during the torture that included kicking, punching, slapping, hitting with a plastic pipe, she was accused of lying in her reports and even if these reports  are correct, they are offensive to the country's reputation.She also accused of dealing with external media channels and forced to sign a confession that she was never allowed to read and then she was released. Nazeeha Saeed  is still suffers a  psychological pain due to this nightmare and although the Ministry of Interior, repeatedly promised to take actions, the offenders have not been punished at all.

The authorities in Bahrain extended this repression campaign to include users of the  new social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps the most prominent example in this area is the questioning of Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights twice, on April 11, and August19, 2011, in relation to what he writes on his personal account in Twitter. He was allegedly accused of a series of charges that include ""deliberately posting sensational propaganda and false information on his social networking site likely to disrupt public order, spark fear among people, damage public interests and defame authorities."

 To stand on your own raising the victory sign in front of a convoy of police cars loaded with men and  ammunitions, your only weapon is that you are peaceful, as we see in the picture above, is something unique in the history of protests and required  a rare courage that really Zainab Al-Khawaja (@angryarabiya has it. She is the other prominent  example, who remarkably succeeded in transforming her personal account on Twitter to bear  some semblance  to a daily newspaper, that led by headlines of current event,  latest news on the protests and arrests,  and in the mean time encouraging  people to demand their human and civil rights. There is no doubt that these legitimate e-activities have made her several times, a target for the security  forces, nevertheless she has shown phenomenal courage at all time.

 Zainab Al-Khawaja was arrested while attending a peaceful demonstration in Manama on 15 December 2011 and released after five days. She has been accused of   three allegedly charges of attacking a police officer, taking part in an illegal demonstration. and inciting subversion. She is waiting the trial.

Blogger and activist Abduljalil Al-Singace, now is  on  a hunger strike since Sunday  January 29, 2012, protesting against the ill-treatment in Jaw prison. Abduljalil, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court on June 22, 2011, is suffering from various medical problems.

Blogger and activist Ali Abdulemam, owner of who was tried in absentia by the same court, sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, disappeared on March 15, 2011.The only crime committed by Ali Abdulemam and Abduljalil Al-Singace is their peaceful opposition to the government and putting endless efforts to exercise their freedom of expression.

In order to complete media blackout, the authorities in Bahrain has exercised all kinds of limitations and harassments against foreign journalists and on several occasions prevented them from entering Bahrain and if allowed them to enter the country, welcomed them by poison gases, as happened when the riot police launched on December  8, 2011, a teargas attack on the New York Times correspondent Nick Christoph @NickKristof  and his accompanying photographer and damaged their equipments. According to some recent reports, Nick has not been granted a visa to be in Bahrain, on February 14, 2012, which marks the first anniversary of the start of the peaceful protests.

The on-going crackdown against journalists forced large number of them to flee the country and set up in July 2011, the London-based "Bahrain Press Association", which works to defend freedom of media and the press in Bahrain. Journalist  Adel Marzouk, the Co-ordinator of the BPA, told me that more than 140 journalists in Bahrain have been targeted with arrest or imprisonment, torture or dismissal from work since the start of the protests on 14 February 2011.

 The conclusion is that, there is no protection here to  journalists but attacks that take many forms and there is no freedom of the press, but restrictions and harassment that having no limits in range or scope which requires solid solidarity with  journalists in Bahrain. The journalists and press freedom in Bahrain are facing imminent danger, so the international community has to intervene immediately to stop all these gross violations.

Parts of this report are published at:

Khalid Ibrahim

Deputy Director

Gulf Centre for Human Rights