ADHRB: Self-censorship Is Bahrainis' Refuge from the Guillotine of Government Pursuit

Security forces arrest a citizen (archive photo)
Security forces arrest a citizen (archive photo)

2024-02-06 - 3:43 م

Bahrain Mirror: Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) asserts the right guaranteed to all citizens in Bahrain for freedom of opinion and expression, calling on the government of Bahrain to adhere to the international laws and treaties it has ratified.

The rights group said in a report, which comes before the commencement of the 55th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) on February 26, 2024, that monitoring the human rights situation in the country "reveals the gloomy reality in the field of suppressing freedoms and criminalizing freedom of opinion and expression," highlighting that as a result, "self-censorship has become a prevailing pattern for Bahraini citizens out of fear of government prosecution."

The concept of "self-censorship" spread in Bahrain after the government suppressed the popular movement demanding reform and democracy, noted ADHRB. "It launched a campaign that continues to this day against any opinion opposing or contrary to its policies. This concept is not limited to the self-censorship practiced by media and journalists due to the laws restricting the freedom of the press and media in Bahrain. However, it also includes a much wider spectrum, extending to all segments of Bahraini society."

The human rights organization went on to say that "this trend gained momentum after 2015, with Bahraini courts beginning to issue malicious sentences for charges related to freedom of expression." ADHRB mentioned how the authorities handed down prison sentences for posting tweets on the X platform (previously known as Twitter) against clerics, including Sayed Majeed Mishal, researchers, and activists, such as opposition leader in the Waad Society, Ibrahim Sharif, for objecting normalization with Israel, and Bahraini historical researcher, Jasim Al-Abbas, who was arrested for publishing a video in which he discusses the historical context for the emergence of Islam and the Shia sect in Bahrain. ADHRB further mentioned that Bahraini authorities arrested Sheikh Mohamed Sanqoor on the background of his refusal to change educational curricula to the satisfaction of the Israeli side, and that activist Ali Muhanna continues to face repeated summonses due to his participation in peaceful gatherings and protests, and his open expression of opinions, pointing out how prominent human right defender Nabeel Rajab engages in self-censorship over his online content to some extent to continue his human rights activism.

"As a consequence, citizens refrain from direct criticism of the ruling family, fearing repercussions. This fear extends to criticizing all security services run by members of the ruling family, including the Ministry of Interior. Due to fear of the censor's scissors, Bahrainis refrain from criticizing ministers and various government agencies associated with the ministers, even if these entities lack decision-making authority. Even government supporters fear potential misinterpretation of their opinions, as any dissent could lead to accountability," the group added.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain urged putting an end to summonses and arrests on the grounds of expressing opinion, and demanding a halt to persecution, espionage on activists and opponents, and reprisals against them.

Arabic Version