American Journalists Arrested in Bahrain Indicates Continuing Crackdown on Dissent
Washington, D.C. – In response to news reports that four American journalists have been arrested in Bahrain, Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley issued the following statement:
“Reports that four American journalists are to be prosecuted in Bahrain are another alarming reminder of how dangerous Bahrain is for reporters. The regime routinely denies admission to those it fears will expose its human rights abuses, and arrests those who do manage to get in.
“The American embassy should remind the Bahraini authorities of their obligations to protect press freedom and freedom of expression, and not target reporters. While it’s increasingly rare for the U.S. government to stand up to its repressive military ally, Washington’s credibility is on the line. It should speak out clearly about what consequences there will be for its relationship with Bahrain if the authorities prosecute American reporters for doing their jobs.”
Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the brutal government crackdown on mass protests calling for democratic reform in Bahrain. Human Rights First released a new blueprint, “How to Reverse Five Years of Failure on Bahrain,” that examines conditions in Bahrain, the strengths and shortcomings of the U.S. response, and potential opportunities for the U.S. government to support civil society and strengthen respect for human rights. The blueprint outlines key missteps in U.S. policy in Bahrain since the 2011 uprising, which include failing to back up rhetoric in support of human rights and civil society with action, and decisions to downplay these priorities in favor of short-term military objectives. Human Rights First’s interviews with Bahraini activists and civil society leaders revealed an enduring human rights crisis in the country, marked by denial of basic rights including freedom of association, assembly, and expression, arbitrary arrests and torture of human rights activists and opposition leaders, and a failure to hold senior officials accountable for the torture and killings that occurred during the 2011 crackdown.