Bahrain Authorities Declare War on Media in All its Forms

Bahrain Authorities Declare War on Media in All its Forms

ANHRI has condemned today the Bahraini authorities for blocking the access to the dependent Al-Qudus Al-Arabi newspaper website on Monday 23th May 2011 in Bahrain. The blocking decision has been taken in the wake of publishing an article the editor-in-chief Abdel Bari Atwan has written under the title “the Saudi intervention in Bahrain is very dangerous”. Atwan has criticized Saudi Arabia for sending one thousand soldiers to participate in suppressing the peaceful demonstrations in Bahrain, considering this to be an unprecedented intervention in a crisis that one the region sovereign countries is facing and warning of a possible sectarian tension which may lead to a regional war.

This action is a new phase within a series of measures taken to suppress the general freedom in the kingdom in the wake of the peaceful protests which the Bahraini authorities has dramatically succeeded in suppressing due to the help of the Saudi military forces. Since then the Bahraini authorities have specifically targeted media, internet, and human rights activists.

In 21 March 2011, the Bahraini government has revoked all licenses belonging to the 2Connect company owned by Ibrahim Sherif, president of Al Waad opposition party, few days later after his arrest for participating in the peaceful protests.

On Saturday 2 April, the Bahraini authorities have issued a resolution to close the independent “Al Wassat”, a newspaper that does not support the government nor the opposition, just because it has published news about the protests in Bahrain.

Also the notable human rights activist Nabil Ragab, president of Bahrain Human Rights Center, has been investigated by the martial prosecutor after being charged of posting fake photos on twitter blog that show signs of torture on the body of Ali Issa Sakr, a citizen who died in the jail in 9 April 2011, before the assault on his home with tear gas grenades for the second time on Saturday 21 May 2011 by dawn.

During the first weeks of April 2011, 4 citizens have been tortured to death in Bahraini jail according to the human rights activists reports in Bahrain. Most of them are internet activists like Zakaria Rashed who died in 9 April 2011. In 12 April 201 the activist, business man and director of Al Wassat newspaper Karim Fakhrawy died in the Bahraini jail.

ANHRI stated “The crackdown on internet activists and blocking of websites show clearly how far the Bahraini government is against internet freedom specially after the protests flare last months. The suppressive measures have highly included targeting the internet and its activists and even killing them in prisons.

Therefore Bahrain becomes only few steps from Saudi Arabia, which is in the lead of countries targeting internet freedom over the world, and after that internet freedom had dramatically improved in Tunisia following the Jasmine Revolution.

ANHRI has added “The journalist and writer, Abdel Bari Atwan, did not commit any fault that may give reason to the Bahraini authority to block his website. He has just expressed true opinion and fears toward the Saudi intervention in helping Bahrain suppressing the peaceful protests. The Saudi and Bahraini governments should have instead meditated in Atwan legal opinion rather than expanding their crackdown to include those who criticize it!!”