International Mission to Bahrain Report (January 2012)
The following report documents the findings of a delegation comprised of representatives from six international rights groups (three members and threepartners of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, IFEX), which carriedout a fact-finding mission between 20-30 November, 2011, in order to gain anunderstanding of the state of free expression and the status of human rightsdefenders in Bahrain.
The 11 recommendations made in this report include calls toend the harassment, imprisonment and prosecution of Bahraini citizens for what essentially amount to persecution of free expression and legitimate human rightswork.The mission team was composed of the Arabic Network for Human RightsInformation (ANHRI), Front Line Defenders, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights(GCHR), Index on Censorship, International Media Support (IMS) and the Writers inPrison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International.Following the fall of authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, hundreds of thousands of Bahraini protesters took to the streets of Manama, the capital city, on14 February, 2011, to peacefully call for democratic reform. Officials were quick tocrack down on protests, and the access of the international media was limited
almost immediately after the start of the protests. Unlike other citizensdemonstrating across the Arab World in 2011, the protests in Bahrain have receivedvery little coverage, particularly considering the disproportionate number of peoplejailed and killed in the tiny country of 1.2 million people. Furthermore, themessages of the protesters
calling for reform, equal rights and opportunities andgreater democracy
have largely been distorted by both the government and theinternational community which have instead focused on sectarian interpretationsand regional geopolitical issues.The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), an IFEX member and human rightsorganisation banned in Bahrain since 2004, asked
that the government avoid theuse of force against the peaceful protests, and respect the rights to assemble andexpress opinions freely. After an initial violent crackdown, leaving at least oneprotester dead, authorities in Bahrain seemed to backtrack and allow for protesters
The mission team was composed of Mina Mamdouh of the Arabic Network for Human RightsInformation (Egypt), Adam Shapiro of Front Line Defenders (Ireland), Khalid Ibrahim of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (Ireland/Lebanon), Sara Yasin of Index on Censorship (UK), Tyge Trier of International Media Support (Denmark) and Marian Botsford Fraser of the Writers in PrisonCommittee (WiPC) of PEN International (UK). Mission support was provided by the InternationalFreedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), of which three of the mission team are members.