The Bahrain Journalists Association launched a much needed anti-sectarian code of ethics as part of them recognising the World Press Freedom Day. Bloggers should join too.
May 3rd of every year coincides with the World Press Freedom day, today is the 18th occurrence of this celebration. On this occasion, I wish to recognise hardworking journalists everywhere and pay them the respect that a lot of them deserve. I would also like to extend my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those brave journalists who paid with their very lives to get us the stories we read in our newspapers.
Bahrain has a long way to go before we can be considered to have free press; though the situation is infinitely better than it was even 10 years ago, there are still some things which must be done to remove the restrictions that this very noble profession suffers from.
The king has always been for more press freedoms and today’s reports solidify his position. He recognises that in the press is a good partner for progress and promises that more restrictions will be removed by the formation of modern laws which prohibit the imprisonment of journalists for their published articles and opinions. It is hoped then that our parliament will enact his majesty’s wishes promptly and adopts a law which encompasses his vision.
I wish to also congratulate the Bahrain Journalists Association for adopting a very worthwhile cause to celebrate this day; they have launched a code of ethics emphacising their opposition to inflaming sectarian hatred and invited all journalists in Bahrain to affirm that goal by participating in it by signing on the code of ethics document in their society’s headquarters in Juffair today.
I’m glad to inform you that the libel case levied against me by the minister of agricultural affairs and municipalities Mansour bin Rajab has officially been dropped this morning and the judge has accepted our joint signed document.
As such, I have removed the gag!
I’ll blog more about the whole experience at a later date, maybe even write a book, goodness knows I have enough material to fill a few pages up!
Thanks once again to everyone for your invaluable support especially to Adel Marzooq and Fatima Al-Hawaj for their tremendous unselfish efforts exerted on my behalf.
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Sorry, I don’t have time to translate it just now as I have to be elsewhere, but will try to do so tomorrow. Needless to say, I would like to thank the BJA very much indeed for standing by me and all bloggers in Bahrain in support of the basic human right of freedom of speech.
The weather was hot, the temperature was certainly over 40 degrees Celsius and the humidity wasn’t forgiving and neither was the sun, but the intelligentsia or Bahrain gathered yesterday in front of the Parliament building to demonstrate in commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day, in solidarity with Isa Al-Shayji who is demanding that MP Mohammed Khaled’s parliamentary immunity be lifted in order for him to stand trial accused of publicly insulting him and of course to show the community’s refusal of that heinous Press and Publications Law of 2002 in which journalists could be (and have) summarily imprisoned for simply practicing the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression and demanded that that law be withdrawn, amended or replaced.
The number of people present were a cross section of society but all of whom share a basic understanding that they support the basic human right of the freedom to express oneself without fear of persecution.
In spite of the heat and humidity, the general atmosphere was happily cautious; yet generally hopeless that we could look to an the impotent parliament to our backs of doing anything germane to help in raising the bar and allowing this great society to elevate itself to a status equal to those it admires for freedoms others take for granted.
Even though the general average age of those gathered was certainly in the twenties, all were aware of these facts and everyone’s hope was tempered; optimism does not come cheap in these circles, all have suffered directly, or know someone who has, a judge’s gavel which shattered the even tenuous illusion of freedom gained.
Greetings done, hands shaken, smiles exchanged and the general somewhat expectant gaiety was not even shattered by the arrival of a jovial officer soon after the first few members gathered at the announced time. Half an hour or so later our numbers were bolstered with a few more individuals each of which carries the weight of whole cross-sections of society: Qassim Haddad, Ebrahim Sharif, Hassan Madan and a plethora of human rights activists lending their much needed support.
90 minutes or so after the initial gathering final communiquâˆšÂ©s were read, placards were stowed and streams of these guardians of the freedoms of expression started to drift away, hopefully to continue to exert and sustain pressure on parliament and government to force infusion blood into flaccid brains to get them to realise that if left alone, the press can and will be the ideal and unwavering partner for progress they sorely need.
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The Bahrain Journalists Association has called for a demonstration in front of the Parliament building this Thursday at
5pm 4.30pm to show to denounce the dearth of parliamentary output in its first session.
The BJA also expresses its deep concern for parliament’s refusal to remove MP Mohammed Khaled’s parliamentary immunity so that he can be tried in a case levied against him by the president of the BJA Isa Al-Shaiji for defamation and slander.
I plan to be there, it is important to demonstrate to the “people’s representatives” that they are anything but. Especially with the ridiculous efforts exerted by them collectively to restrict personal and all other freedoms.
We’re all gathering tomorrow morning at the Court building at 9:30. Cases are looked at starting at 10:00am.
It’s a freedom of expression case, any way you look at it. Please show your opposition to attempts to stifle this freedom by being there.
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The Bahraini Journalists Association denounces the trial of Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif
Journalists call to mobilize at the High Criminal Court
Jufair – Bahraini Journalists Association – Sunday, April 15, 2007
Bahraini Journalists Association invites all journalists in Bahrain to amass in solidarity with the Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif at the High Criminal Court on Tuesday April 17, 2007 due to the case brought against him by the Minister of Municipalities Mansour bin Rajab.
This calls all the journalists to be present at the courtroom and declare their solidarity with Al-Yousif on this issue of freedom of opinion and expression in Bahrain. The BJA condemns the insistence of the minister in pursuing a lawsuit against Al-Yousif, especially as Al-Yousif’s criticism of the minister in his Internet published article was criticism of the minister’s capacity as public official rather than personal. The BJA also calls on civic institutions political and social to show their solidarity by attending at the trial and release supportive statements of Al-Yousif. The Society also announces that it has asked Advocate Fatima Al-Hawaj to assume the defense of Mahmood Al-Yousif and would like to thank Ms. Al-Hawaj for her acceptance in assuming that role.
The Bahraini Journalists Association, realizes the seriousness of the continuation of such trials, which seek to undermine one of the most important achievements in the national reform of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, which is the tenet of the freedom of speech; thus, the Journalists Association will not stand idle and watch the the assassination attempts of this freedom.
The Bahraini Journalists Association will exert all efforts available within its powers and will activate all the tools at its disposal as well as its relations with regional and international organizations to demand a stop to these judicial campaigns against journalists in Bahrain.
The Association stresses that in espousing the cause of Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif had taken into consideration the commitments and legal contexts of electronic publishing asserting that freedom of expression in these laws are an integral part of freedom of speech as required by the tenets of the National Action Charter and the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. It has also taken into account the adoption of international journalists institutions of similar electronic publishing cases and defended them within the context of the freedom of the press.
We in the Journalists Association are confident of the impartiality of the judiciary in Bahrain and will be supportive of freedom of speech and expression. The Association appreciates that the members of the press in Bahrain, both members and non-members, respond to this call to mobilize on the day of the trial hoping that the minister responds to our demands of withdrawing this lawsuit.
Bahrain Journalists Association
note: translation to English is my attempt
The Bahrain Journalists Association has just released a strongly worded press release in which it condemned the minister of municipalities and agriculture’s reneging on an agreement in which I have fully fulfilled.
My thanks go to Adel Marzooq who has been a pillar of support and mediation. I wish to thank him publicly for all of his efforts.
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We register our dismay due to the Minister of Municipal Affairs reneging on the agreement to withdraw the case against blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif
Adel Marzooq: We declare our solidarity with Al-Yousif and will call on all journalists to demonstrate [at the court house] when the court convenes to consider the case
Juffair – Bahrain Journalist Association
The vice president of the Bahrain Journalist Association Mr. Adel Marzooq issued a statement declaring that he acted as an unofficial mediator – with the full agreement of the Association’s board – between the Minister of Municipal and Agricultural Affairs Mansour bin Rajab and the blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif in the case lodged with the public prosecutor by the minister against Al-Yousif.
Marzooq affirmed that he did communicate with the minister, the blogger and another intermediary on the minister’s behalf. He confirmed that Al-Yousif did abide by the terms of the agreement fully and has indeed removed the “contentious” words, but the minister refused – according to the 2nd intermediary – to withdraw the case making further demands to remove the comments on the published article as well, which Marzooq considered as an “unwarranted behavior” by the minister and his mediator, and that these conditions were never part of the original agreement.
Marzooq further declared that he communicated with members of the Association’s board to officially request all affiliated journalists to offer their solidarity with Al-Yousif when the court convenes to consider this case in support of the freedom of expression and resolutely stand with the freedom of speech and urge public figures to reduce their sensitivity to criticism.
The vice president of the Bahrain Journalists Association said that the Association will study the legality of adopting the defence of Al-Yousif in light of his not being a member of the Association. In the event of the board’s agreement, the Association will communicate with a multitude of concerned international and legal bodies and ask them to offer their support to Al-Yousif in any way they can.