Bahraini Government Shuts Down Independent Newspaper

Washington, D.C. – Following news reports that Bahraini authorities have suspended the operations of independent newspaper Al Wasat, Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley issued the following statement:

“The immediate suspension of Al Wasat newspaper in Bahrain is another seriously alarming, if predictable, move from the Bahraini government in silencing all opposition voices and crushing dissent.”

Bahraini authorities publicly announced today that they have “temporarily suspended Al-Wasat newspaper until further notice. This is due to its violation of the law and repeated dissemination of information that affects national unity and the Kingdom’s relationship with other countries.” Earlier this week, the Bahraini government ominously announced that “Legal action remains an option when [media] companies … persist in their bias”.

Al Wasat is a widely respected and leading newspaper in the region, edited by experienced journalist Mansoor Al Jamri and known for its balanced journalism for over a decade. In 2011, in the aftermath of widespread unrest and pro-democracy protests, the paper was forced to shut down temporarily. In April 2011 co-founder and board member of Al-Wasat newspaper, Karim Fakhrawy, was tortured to death in custody, a week after he was arrested.

Since the State Department announced at the end of June 2015 the lifting on its ban on arms sales to Bahrain’s military, citing “meaningful progress on human rights,” there have been a series of attacks on free speech by the government.

“Closing Al Wasat is a seriously dangerous move by the regime, and the Obama Administration should urgently rethink its lifting of the ban on weapons sales to this repressive regime,” added Dooley.

For more information or to speak with Dooley, contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at [email protected] or 212-845-5269.


Published on August 6, 2015


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