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PEN American Center submitted a brief to the United Nations on the climate for free expression in Bahrain. You can read a summary of NGO stakeholder submissions—including PEN’s submission—here.

WASHINGTON, 4 May (IPS) - Citing growing violence and polarisation along sectarian lines, human rights groups and independent experts here are urging Washington to exert more pressure on the government of Bahrain to free political prisoners and launch a serious dialogue with its opposition on major democratic reforms. 

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fictionthatmatters:

Freedom of the Press: in the Middle East, widely curtailed and often violated
““The media – old and new, local and international has paid a heavy price for its sustained and courageous efforts to inform local and international populations about the political upheavals in the Middle East.” These comments from Fateh Azzam, Head of the UN Human Rights regional office in the Middle East, on World Press Freedom Day, acknowledge the vital role played by the media in covering events as they have unfolded in the Middle East.”
(via Freedom of the Press: in the Middle East, widely curtailed and often violated)

fictionthatmatters:

Freedom of the Press: in the Middle East, widely curtailed and often violated

“The media – old and new, local and international has paid a heavy price for its sustained and courageous efforts to inform local and international populations about the political upheavals in the Middle East.” These comments from Fateh Azzam, Head of the UN Human Rights regional office in the Middle East, on World Press Freedom Day, acknowledge the vital role played by the media in covering events as they have unfolded in the Middle East.”

(via Freedom of the Press: in the Middle East, widely curtailed and often violated)

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We believe that the decision to resume arms shipments to the government of Bahrain without tangible evidence of progress in restoring and protecting human rights sends the wrong message to the Bahraini people and the international community—namely that the U.S. will privilege national security over documented human rights violations. That is surely not the message the administration wishes to project in the region.
PEN American Center, in our letter to Secretary of State Clinton on the resumption of arms shipments to Bahrain
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PEN at the UN: Human Rights Council completes review of South Africa, Bahrain, Ecuador, and Tunisia
Last week, PEN was excited to see free expression issues take center stage during reviews of South Africa, Bahrain, Ecuador, and Tunisia at the UN Human Rights Council.
Click here for the full article.
Photo by 12thplaya on Creative Commons License.

PEN at the UN: Human Rights Council completes review of South Africa, Bahrain, Ecuador, and Tunisia

Last week, PEN was excited to see free expression issues take center stage during reviews of South Africa, Bahrain, Ecuador, and Tunisia at the UN Human Rights Council.

Click here for the full article.

Photo by 12thplaya on Creative Commons License.

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fictionthatmatters:

“It’s like putting a bear in a box, I felt just like that. I never want to go back to that place again.”
11 year old Ali Hasan on serving several weeks in jail in Bahrain.  Ali Hasan is being tried in Bahrain for allegedly facilitating street protests. He is now out on bail.
(via Bahrain puts boy aged 11 on trial for alleged role in roadblock protest | World news | guardian.co.uk)

fictionthatmatters:

“It’s like putting a bear in a box, I felt just like that. I never want to go back to that place again.”

11 year old Ali Hasan on serving several weeks in jail in Bahrain.  Ali Hasan is being tried in Bahrain for allegedly facilitating street protests. He is now out on bail.

(via Bahrain puts boy aged 11 on trial for alleged role in roadblock protest | World news | guardian.co.uk)

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Nabeel Rajab is currently held at Jaw central prison in harsh conditions
which reflect the desire of the Bahraini regime to take revenge. He is
being held in a dirty cell where there are insects. The cell has no
ventilation despite the high temperature. He is isolated from political
prisoners and held with criminal prisoners. Prisoners are not allowed to
talk to him, excluding the two people who share the cell with him. He
was refused access to the doctor despite the fact that he suffers from
eczema, high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat.  In addition, on
several occasions, the prison administration has denied access to his
medication in order to put pressure on him. Contrary to the rules of
Bahraini prisons, we as a family are harassed when we apply to visit him
and the reply to the applications always take a long time. Also, in
contrast to other detainees, he is always brought to the visiting room
with his hands handcuffed.

We, as the family of Nabeel Rajab, plead to you and plead to the UN and
all international human rights organizations and institutions to demand
from the Bahraini authorities that Nabeel Rajab should be released, that
abuses against him and our family should stop and that he should be
allowed to practice his human rights activities as guaranteed by all
international conventions. We also hold the international community
responsible for protecting freedoms and human rights in Bahrain and for
working to put an end to human rights violations against the Bahraini
people and especially against human rights defenders such as Nabeel Rajab.

We hope that you will take our plea into consideration and that you
realize that the silence of some Western governments about the gross
human rights violations in Bahrain means that the Bahraini people will
lose trust in you and in principles you talk about. The people of
Bahrain cannot understand the silence of the international community
about the violations taking place in Bahrain while it is moving to
resolve violations in other areas of the world. Freedom and respect for
human rights are the only path to building a flourishing future for all
people without any exception, and we in Bahrain long to build a state
based on the foundations of justice and equality for all Bahraini people
without any exception.

Bahrain, 11 August 2012

Sumaya Rajab, wife of activist Nabeel Rajab
Adam Rajab, son of activist Nabeel Rajab
Malak Rajab, daughter of activist Nabeel Rajab

(Source: )

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photo by Mike Licht notionscapital.com

It’s not often these days that we identify freedom with international sports. Indeed, the federations that set the rules for various global athletic competitions have emerged as enablers for the world’s certified authoritarians and aspiring autocrats. Consider:

  • China, the universally acknowledged model for modern authoritarian control, hosted the 2008 Olympic Games.
  • Russia, whose rubber-stamp parliament has just rushed through a package of laws designed to silence the political opposition and stifle civic activism, will host the 2014 Winter Olympicsandinternational soccer’s 2018 World Cup. (The 2022 World Cup will be hosted by Qatar, an absolute monarchy.)
  • Belarus, the target of a recentteddy-bear bombardmentaimed at protesting the dictatorship of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, will host the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship.
  • Ukraine, where the prosecution of opposition leaders has heralded a steep slide into authoritarian governance, cohosted the recent European soccer championship.
  • Bahrain, whose royal family has persecuted prodemocracy protesters, played host to a Formula 1 auto race earlier this year.

If nothing else, these events have served to rebut the hoary argument that when a country is treated as a normal member of the international community, it will behave that way. The number of political prisoners increased in China during the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, and censorship became more pervasive and sophisticated. Ukraine stepped up the persecution of the Orange opposition prior to the soccer championship. Neither Russia nor Belarus has given evidence of political relaxation as the dates of their tournaments draw near.