BPA: Bahrain is racing F1 cars in persecuting media professionals and freedom of expression
LONDON, April 22, 2012 – Bahrain Press Association ("BPA"), the London-based association concerned with defending and addressing issues related to Bahrain media and press people, condemns the apprehension of Activist Mohamed Hasan for his participation in the famous American Documentary Dan Rather. Mr. Hasan received many threats via telephone by the security forces before being directly hit and brutally abused by security squads. BPA's representative has affirmed the arrest of Mr. Hasan after being injured in the village of Bilad Al Qadaeem when he was escorting foreign reporters. He was then admitted to the Salmaniya Medical Complex, the country's main medical hospital, where he was arrested and kept in custody for one day. Mr. Hasan was released in the early hours of this Saturday morning.
The BPA is highly concerned about the rolling back of arrests and torture against those participating in media shows on the international scale. Such abuses have been the norm by the regime since February 14, 2011 as the Bahraini authorities have arrested and interrogated scores of media professionals, journalists, and human rights activists who took part in different international shows highlighting the Bahraini cause. The BPA has documented many violations against media professionals including assaults and verbal abuses inside the interrogation rooms and upon arresting.
Along with this, many international media outlets have documented the ban imposed by the Bahraini regime on their correspondents from entering the country. The BPA considers such step to be notorious and complies with the policies practiced by the Information Affairs Authority to tighten all the media coverage of the crisis rocking the country. In a televised interview, the Bahraini Crown Prince, Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, did not deny the ban imposed on foreign correspondents but he simply commented that the responsible body for such a ban is the government!
The list of the banned correspondents to enter Bahrain includes FT's correspondent Siomon Ker, The Times's journalist Karen Lee, CNN's correspondent Amber lyon, and two reporters from the Associated Press. The Bahraini regime has also denied entry to all non-sport correspondents from Reuters as the prominent news agency reported in a statement.
Concurrent with the knock-out qualifying laps of the F1 Grand Prix, and despite international calls to stop harassing Bahraini journalists in 'fabricated' criminal cases that are related to the freedom of expression in essence, the Bahraini judiciary convicted journalist Reem Khalifa in the case known as "The Irish Physicians Press Conference Case" as the judge decided to fine the journalist BD 600 (around US$ 1600). The court refused to listen to the defendant's witnesses; an action seen by many observers to be as an implementation of politically-based ruling.
The High Criminal Court sent back the case of those accused of torturing France 24's reporter, Bahraini journalist Nazeeha Saeed, to the public prosecution. This raises many questions as to the seriousness of the Bahraini judiciary to truly implement the recommendations contained in Bassiouni's report, especially in what relates to bringing to justice those responsible for torture as well as the calls released by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Reporters Without Boarders (RWB), and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) pertaining to opening an investigation into the torturing of Nazeeha Saeed and putting the torturers on trial.
It is worth mentioning that the Bahraini media professionals including journalists, photographers, and bloggers were subjected to mass arrests after the declaration of the martial laws in March 15, 2011. This was followed by the murdering of publisher Kareem Fakrawi and blogger Zakariya Al Asheeri along with the arrest and torture of more than 140 media professionals. Likewise, tens of foreign correspondents were temporarily detained, forcefully deported, or denied entry to Bahrain.
For more information, please contact: Bahrain Press Association UK +447821135441 US +12403869925 Email: Info@Bahrainpa.org