Bahrain is still paying a heavy price for freedom

Vanja Skotnes

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It’s two years since the protests in Bahrain began, and the human rights situation in the country is only getting worse. The people are still suppressed and activists are jailed. Their voices are silenced.

Uprisings in Bahrain started 14th of February 2011. The people demanded political reforms, freedom, democracy and justice. Authorities and king Al Khalifa’s rule answered the protests with violence and hundreds of people were imprisoned. Many were also abused and allegedly tortured.

“The government of Bahrain cannot carry on imprisoning people simply because it can’t take criticism. It’s time that people detained simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression be released and for the harassment of other activists to desist,” says Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Deputy Director.

“Bahrain risks creating nothing more than a bureaucracy of human rights if changes are not matched by a genuine political will to reform – Bahrainis need to see their rights respected in everyday life.”

Jailed on false charges

Amnesty met with seven prisoners of conscience in Bahrain, detained in Jaw prison. All of the seven reported they had been jailed on false charges or under laws that repress basic rights.

Many of the prisoners of conscience were allegedly tortured in the first weeks of arrest.

“No convincing evidence had been submitted to justify these convictions. It appears that all of those involved were targeted for their anti-government views and for having participated in peaceful protests,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui says.

One of the prisoners told Amnesty that when he had to go to the hospital for treatment, his face was covered and he couldn’t see the doctor or the medical staff.

In prison for a tweet

Four men are jailed in Bahrain for publicly having “insulted the king” on Twitter. They were all charged for using their freedom of expression.

Abdullah Alwi al-Hashemi faces six months in prison, while Ali Mohammed Ali, Ali Abdul Nabi al-Hayeki and a fourth man faces four months.

Last October, the Interior Minister of Bahrain announced a ban against demonstrations, and said that this ban will last until “the safety is recovered”. He also said that one of his biggest worries were that demonstrations expressed opposition to government and the king.

This video is one year old, however still highly relevant:

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Vanja Skotnes

As a former journalist for Amnesty International, I will use this blog to write about human rights abuses. My intention is to create more awareness. Follow my posts and stay updated. Twitter: @vanjaskotnes

  • Stian Karlsen

    great article V, you’re doing a great job for those people and theire rights. You are important!:))

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thank you, Stian:) Glad you liked the article and are interested!

  • Lina

    Great job Vanja, it is so important that this is not forgotten about and is kept in the media until positive changes are made.

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks a lot, Lina! I know, glad you are interested and aware:)

  • Camilla

    Very good piece, Vanja! Keep it up!

  • Vanja Skotnes

    Thank you, Camilla!:)

  • Anne Melsom Bjerke

    A very important article, Vanja! Great that you continue causing awareness about the topic. Looking forward to reading your next post.

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thank you, Anne. Appreciate your views! Looking forward to read your next post as well, keep up the good work:)

  • Tonje R. Brandsdal

    Well written article about an important issue. Great work.

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thank you, Tonje!

  • Pei

    Thank you for shedding some light on an issue slightly overshadowed by other conflicts of the Arab Spring.

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thank you, Pei. They are all important conflicts and issues to create more awareness about in the media. Never forget the people who suffers and pays a huge price for simply exercising their freedom of expression.

  • Mathilde Torsøe

    An important and needed article, Vanja. It’s very good that you are shedding more light on this issue!

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thank you, Mathilde! Glad you’re sharing the need of more awareness.

  • Victoria Laurent

    Great Post about uprising in Bahrain !

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thank you, Victoria!

  • B.

    You care Vanja, and you make me care too ! Keep up the good work !

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thank you, B! I’m glad:)

  • Kristine

    great article Vanja!

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks, Kristine! Hope you will stay tuned for more stuff.

  • Lena Hoeyberg

    Important to create awareness around! Well done. And very well written, vanja 🙂

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thank you, Lena!

  • Kristin Karlsson

    Great article, very interesting topic. It’s amazing how much can stay “hidden” in our news, despite all the content we get shoved on us every day. The impostant stuff seem to disappear…

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thank you, Kristin – I totally agree with you. And keep up the good work with your great articles as well.