Many photographers who have been covering the pro-democracy protests taking place in Bahrain since mid-February have been arrested in the past few days. By carrying out these targeted arrests, the Bahraini authorities are trying to limit media coverage of their crackdown on the protests, especially coverage in the international media.
Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediately release of these photojournalists and all the other people who have been arrested for circulating information about the demonstrations and the ensuing government crackdown.
Mohamed Salman Al-Shaikh, a freelance photographer who heads the Bahrain Society of Photography, was arrest in his home in Sanabis, a village west of Manama, on 11 May. He is a member of several international photography organizations and has won many international prizes.
Three photographers were arrested on 15 May. One was Saeed Abdulla Dhahi, who was arrested at his home in Juffair, southeast of the capital. His photographic equipment was seized during searches of his home and the home of his fiancée. He was the freed the next day.
The third hearing in the trial of 21 human rights activists and opposition members was meanwhile held yesterday. The defendants present in court, who including the blogger Abduljalil Al-Singace, pleaded not guilty to trying to overthrow the government. Fellow blogger Ali Abdulemam, regarded as one of the country’s Internet pioneers, is also one of the defendants but he is being tried in absentia.
The trial was adjourned until 22 May to give the defence a chance to examine the evidence presented by the prosecution. The defendants are being tried before a special Manama court under martial law. The same court sentenced four demonstrators to death last month.
The head of the pro-democracy and civil liberties movement Al Haq, Singace used his blog to denounce the deplorable state of civil liberties in Bahrain and the discrimination against its Shiite population.
Anmar Kamal Al-Dine, a 24-year-old netizen who blogs on the social network Twitter as @anmarek, was meanwhile arrested on 12 May and was held for 24 hours. He has been posting photos of demonstrations on Twitter, especially the funerals of demonstrators in March and April during which many arrests were made. His Twitter account has been inaccessible since his arrest.
Abbas Al-Murshid, a prominent freelance columnist and writer who also participates in several online forums, was arrested after being summoned for questioning at 6 p.m. yesterday. He managed to contact his family today to let them know that he is being held. He is well known for the views he has expressed on sensitive subjects in recent months. In 2009, he was injured in the right eye by a rubber bullet fired by riot police.
Mattar Ibrahim Mattar, a parliamentary representative of the Al-Wefaq party who often talks to the international media about the current repression in Bahrain, was arrested on 2 May, after giving an interview to Al-Jazeera the previous day in which he stressed the danger of opposition leaders being arrested.
The following are still detained:
Faysal Hayyat, Ali Jawad, Abdullah Alawi and Jasem Al-Sabbagh, who were arrested after being forced to resign from the newspaper Al-Bilad.
Ali Omid, Hani Al-Tayf, Fadel Al-Marzouk, Hossein Abdalsjad Abdul Hossein Al-Abbas,Jaffar Abdalsjad Abdul Hossein Al-Abbas, Hamza Ahmed Youssef Al-Dairi and Ahmed Youssef Al-Dairi, who are all online forum administrator or moderators.
Al-Wasat journalist Haydar Mohamed.
Photographer Hossein Abbas Salem.
- Bahrain court adjourns trial of protest activists (sfgate.com)
- Bahrain rights activist’s wife details torture, unfair trial (csmonitor.com)