Bahrain racing in circles – A Time for Social Media Action

One way to support Bahrain;s imprisoned photographers will be through a F1 campaign we just launched with Reporters Without Borders. We’re using a tool called Thunderclap, which helps create a social media flash mob at a predetermined time – in this case, for the starting gun of the race on April 6. We want to make sure the government cannot hide its press and human rights violations behind F1. Thunderclap will help us get thousands of tweets to be posted simultaneously about press freedom right when the race begins. Please sign up on “thunder-clap” to make your voice heard via twitter. https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/10068-bahrain-racing-in-circles

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Bahrain racing in circles
By Jason Stern – CPJ – 22 March, 2014

Thursday, the official Bahrain News Agency announced the “final 30-day countdown [to] the Formula One extravaganza” to take place the first week of April. Every year the race acts as a lightning rod for criticism of the Bahraini government, which seeks to use high-profile international events like the F1 to gloss over human rights violations in the country.

So perhaps it’s all too predictable that another journalist was arrested in Bahrain only a few hours before the BNA article went to press. Freelance photojournalist Sayed Baqer Al-Kamil was arrested at a checkpoint west of Manama sometime in the early morning hours, according to news reports and his colleagues. It is not clear why he was arrested, but Al-Kamil has meticulously documented the protest movement in Bahrain.

In another recent case, Bahraini security forces arrested photographer Sayed Ahmed Al-Mosawi and his brother in a house raid the morning of February 10, according to news reports. Al-Mosawi was transferred to the Dry Dock prison after several days of interrogation about his work. The journalist, who has won international recognition for his photographs, told his family in a phone call from prison that he had been tortured through beatings and electrocution, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

Al-Kamil and Al-Mosawi join at least three other journalists behind bars in Bahrain, the second worst country in the world for journalists imprisoned per capita, according to CPJ research.

The arrests also come as at least four journalists were injured in street violence, with political tensions simmering around the third anniversary of the February 14, 2011, opposition protests.

On March 3, a photographer for the English-language Gulf Daily News was injured in an explosion targeting three policemen in Daih village, the paper reported. Ebrahim Al Sinan, who was standing 10 meters from the blast, sustained a lung injury and shrapnel wounds. The journalist was taken to Bahrain Defence Force Hospital for treatment. Gulf Daily News’s Deputy Editor Robert Smith told CPJ that Al Sinan was released from the hospital on March 4.

The blast came as Al Sinan was covering clashes between riot police and protesters from a funeral procession of a Bahraini inmate who died last month in custody. The government said the inmate, Jaffar Al-Durazi, died from complications of sickle cell anemia, but opposition groups said he was subjected to torture and medical negligence.

It is not clear who carried out the attack on the security forces, with at least two groups claiming responsibility on Facebook, according to Bahrain scholar Marc Owen Jones. Bahrain’s major opposition and human rights groups condemned the attack and urged Bahrainis to end the cycle of violence.

In a photograph of the attack captured by EPA photojournalist Mazen Mahdi, riot police grimace from tear gas as one of their comrades lay wounded in the street. A few days prior, on February 26, Mahdi accused the police of aiming deliberately at journalists after he had been shot in the leg by a teargas canister while covering protests in Daih. He was not seriously injured. …more

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