Index on Censorship, Press Freedom Org. Call for Lifting of Al-Wasat Suspension
2017-06-08 - 10:48 p
Bahrain Mirror: International press freedom organizations and local Bahraini groups are among fifteen campaigners who today raised alarm over the suspension of Bahrain‘s only independent newspaper, Al Wasat, which has been barred from publishing for four days now.
The rights groups which today wrote letters addressed to ten countries including the UK, state Bahrain is "effectively silencing the media in Bahrain and violating the right to freedom of expression."
The letters, signed by Index on Censorship, Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, Article 19, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and ten others wrote to states urging them to "publicly call on the Government of Bahrain to allow Al Wasat to resume publication immediately."
The letter is addressed to the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Italy and France - who all have embassies in Bahrain - as well as Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the European Union.
The letter continues, "In this context, journalists in Bahrain have expressed to NGOs serious concerns that the newspaper will not be allowed to resume publication."
Melody Patry, Head of Advocacy, Index on Censorship said, "The silencing of Al Wasat - the only independent voice in Bahrain's media - underscores the dismal state of human rights in the country. The Bahraini government must allow free and unfettered access to information."
For his part, Cat Lucas from Writers at Risk Programme Manager and English PEN, said, "By silencing the only independent newspaper in the country, the Bahraini authorities are sending a clear message that dissenting voices will not be tolerated. Our governments must send an equally clear message that the suspension of Al Wasat is unacceptable and that a plurality of voices in the media is an essential part of any democracy."
"Bahrain is experiencing a severe crackdown on freedom of expression. Now is the time for the international community to speak up to defend fundamental human rights, in particular, the right to freedom of expression, which is crucial for promoting stable, pluralistic democratic societies," said Saloua Ghazouni, Director of ARTICLE 19's Middle East and North Africa regional office.
Al Wasat's suspension is the latest in a recent spate of reprisals against independent media and civil society actors, including journalists, writers, and human rights defenders.
Al Wasat was suspended due to the publication of an opinion article regarding widespread protests in Morocco, a source in the newspaper said.
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