Bahrain Bi-Weekly: Issue 13

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ADHRB Exclusive Interview with

Bahraini Journalist Nazeeha Saeed

Photo Credit: Isa Ali Hammadi
Nazeeha Saeed, a Bahraini correspondent for France 24 and Radio Monte Carlo, witnessed firsthand the brutal tactics used by the Government of Bahrain to suppress the peaceful uprising in 2011. As a result of her coverage of those events, she was harassed, arrested, detained, and tortured, and the police officers responsible for her torture and mistreatment have enjoyed complete impunity. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain recently caught up with Ms. Saeed to discuss the state of freedom of expression in Bahrain, the recent acquittal of one of Ms. Saeed’s torturers, and what the international community should be doing to support human rights in Bahrain.

Q: What actions has the Government of Bahrain taken against foreign and domestic journalists since 2011 that have made it difficult for them to do their work in Bahrain?

A lot of restrictions have been imposed on foreign journalists trying to enter the country, which wasn’t the case before 2011, so a lot of pressure has been put on local journalists to show what’s going on in Bahrain. Since 2011, the government has begun harassing and monitoring local journalists, and scrutinizing our reports because they are often the only source of information on the situation in Bahrain. At times we get calls or emails directing us not to report on some topics.

Q: Have there been any improvements for journalists since the BICI report was issued in late 2011?

As a Bahraini journalist living and reporting in Bahrain, I haven’t seen changes in the treatment of journalists since the report was released. We are still being harassed, still being stopped, and still being arrested by police for doing our jobs.

Q: The Bahrain government is considering restricting VoIP services like Skype, while a recent amendment to the Penal Code increases the penalty up to five years for insulting the king, the flag, or other national symbols. How have such measures affected journalists in Bahrain?

A large number of Bahrainis don’t have a conventional media outlet for their ideas, so they rely on social media to obtain information and express themselves. If VoIP services are restricted, people will lose their ability to speak freely. The Penal Code amendment has caused everybody in Bahrain to be more careful when describing events, because the amendment language is vague and can be used against anybody who says or reports anything the Bahrain government doesn’t like.

Q: Some Bahrainis have left the country because they fear repercussions from the Bahrain government for their views. Why have you stayed?
I understand why people leave Bahrain, but for me, I could never leave my country or my job. I’ve been in this job for fourteen years. I have loved journalism since I was a kid and I don’t know how to do anything else.

Q: What can the US government do to alleviate the current situation in Bahrain?

Support free media. Support impartial and fair trials. Support political reforms. Western allies should stop complimenting the Bahrain government. They need to criticize and speak out against the situation in Bahrain. Remaining silent or applauding the Bahrain government is not helping the country to move forward, it’s not helping free media, and it’s not helping freedom of speech.

Bahrain News

NGOs on Bahrain
 ADHRB Condemns Recent Violence in Bahrain and Calls for Meaningful Dialogue
 Detained Protesters in Bahrain Denied Medical Treatment
 BCHR New Report: Sickle Cell Disease and the Government Crackdown in Bahrain

European Governments on Bahrain
Turning Up the Volume on Human Rights at the European Union
UK Approves £12bn of Arms Exports to Countries with Poor Human Rights 

Bahraini Human Rights Defenders
 Demand Freedom for Bahraini Human Rights Defender Abdulhadi al-Khawaja
 New Evidence Emphasizes Torture of Prominent Activist Naji Fateel
The Gulf-West Alliance and Dehumanizing Bahrainis: A Conversation with Ali Abudlemam

Commentary on Bahrain
 The Continuing Struggle in Bahrain
 Emerging as Washington’s Next Middle East Crisis
 Brian Dooley – Bahrain Torturers Must Be Held Accountable
The Arab Spring Wasn’t Successful for Everyone in the Region
Trial of Police Officer Accused of Torturing Bahrain Poet Postponed (Arabic) (Click here for English translation)

Upcoming Events

Monday, July 22 | 12-2 pm
US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2013: Findings and Recommendations (RSVP)
Johns Hopkins University
Nitze Building | Kenney Auditorium
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Tuesday, July 23 | 9-10:30 am
Setting the State for the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (RSVP)
Center for Strategic and International Studies
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Monday, July 29 | 
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General Raymond Odierno on American Military Strategy in a Time of Declining Resources (RSVP)
American Enterprise Institute
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Thursday, August 1 | 
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Mayday: The Decline of American Naval Supremacy (RSVP)
The Heritage Foundation
Lehrman Auditorium
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