Tag Archives freedoms

BJA Press Release in regards to the case settlement between Al-Yousif and bin Rajab

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بيان من جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية

الجمعية تعلن ارتياحها للمصالحة بين البلوغر “اليوسف” والوزير “رجب”

تعلن جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية عن ارتياحها للمصالحة التي تمت بين البلوغر البحريني محمود اليوسف ووزير البلديات منصور بن رجب والتي أفضت إلى سحب القضية المرفوعة أمام القضاء البحريني ضد البلوغر اليوسف.

هذا، وتتقدم الجمعية بالشكر الجزيل إلى المحامية فاطمة الحواج – ممثلة الجمعية في الدفاع عن البلوغر محمود اليوسف على ما قدمته من جهود في سبيل إتمام هذه المصالحة مقدرة الدور الإيجابي للمحاميين البحرينيين في الدفاع عن الصحافة والصحفيين وعن حرية الكلمة في البحرين.

هذا، وتأتي هذه المصالحة بعدما عبرت شتى الفعاليات السياسية في البحرين عن مساندتها لموقف الجمعية الداعم للبلوغر اليوسف، ومن هذا المنطلق، تتقدم الجمعية بشكرها لجميع المؤسسات السياسية والحقوقية التي ساهمت في دعم قضية البلوغر محمود اليوسف من داخل البحرين وخارجها.

إننا في جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية نؤمن بأن حرية المدونيين البحرينيين في تناول شتى الموضوعات السياسية والحقوقية والاجتماعية والثقافية هي جزء لا يتجزأ من حرية الإنسان البحريني في التعبير عن رأيه. ونؤمن أيضاً، ان المدونات البحرينية اليوم هي إحدى فصول المكون الإعلامي في البحرين.

إن حرية الكلمة والفضاءات المفتوحة للرأي هي الضمانة الرئيسية في اكتمال العملية السياسية والتنموية في البلاد، وهو ما يجعلنا في جمعية الصحفيين مسئولين عن الدفاع عن هذه الضمانة في وجه إي محاولة لقمعها أو الانتقاص منها.

عادل مرزوق
نائب رئيس جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية
6-5-2007

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.

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Demands for change are gathering apace

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.

World Press Freedom Day demonstration in Bahrain

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 communiqués 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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World Press Freedom Day

Today marks the annual commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day. This occasion of course is not a celebration, not by any means, but is an occasion for all of us to reflect about what dear price journalists and opinion writers pay to bring us news and thoughts which makes us more aware of the world around us, and even allow us to make informed decisions. And for that, they generally get kidnapped and imprisoned. It is unfortunate too that the Arab world in particular seems to be the most hostile to not just the basic human right of freedoms of expression, but to other personal freedoms too via restrictions imposed by rulers cloaking their discriminatory decisions with religious dogma and shroud them with the need to preserve our culture.

In Bahrain, our king repeatedly came out in support of press freedoms, while the very law that he promulgated in 2002 is still used to silence and criminally penalise journalists, the cases against whom I am told now average at least one case a week brought against them for libel or any of the plethora of other charges, all designed to silence criticism or to seemingly try to force the aura of respect (or probably subordination) to public officials’ and their positions, refusing to collectively recognise the power of good that a free and responsible media could enact in communities and countries.

To commemorate this day, I shall put my hand firmly with those in the Bahraini press today and stand with them at a token demonstration in front the parliament building this afternoon at 5pm. I shall also remember Alan Johnston and Kareem Sulaiman and their like and extend them my thanks for their courage in speaking their mind and doing their job.

Press Freedom Barometer - RSF - 3May07

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Demonstration at Parliament on Thursday, be there!

«الصحفيين» تدعو للاعتصام أمــــام «النيــابي» الخميــس المقبــل

ناشدت جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية جموع الصحافيين والمثقفين والفنانين البحرينيين ”الاعتصام أمام مجلس النواب الخميس المقبل، احتجاجا على مجمل ما أنتجه المجلس في دورته الحالية من قرارات ولجان تحقيق بحق الثقافة والإبداع وحرية الكلمة”.

وفي سياق متصل، استغربت الجمعية في بيان أصدرته أمس (الأحد) رفض لجنة الشؤون التشريعية بالمجلس رفع الحصانة عن عضو كتلة المنبر الإسلامي النائب محمد خالد في القضية التي رفعها ضده رئيس الجمعية عيسى الشايجي.

وعبرت الجمعية في بيانها عن ”كامل تضامنها مع الزميل الشايجي فيما تعرض له من إهانة وقذف مباشر من قبل النائب خالد”ØŒ معربة عن قلقها من ”اتجاه الكتل النيابية الأعضاء في اللجنة للمساس بحرية الصحافة وقمعها معتمدين على الحصانة النيابية ”ØŒ وفق البيان. واعتبرت الجمعية، هذا الموقف من قبل النواب ”مخزٍ، ويطرح الكثير من الأسئلة عن مصداقية المجلس من جهة وعن تلك الوعود التي أطلقوها في الدفاع عن الصحافيين وإصدار قانون صحافة متطور من جهة أخرى”.

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.

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The minister recants and withdraws case

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Very quickly after lodging an official complaint with the Public Prosecution, the Minister of Electricity and Water has recanted and withdrawn the libel case against a municipal councillor after mediation efforts by the councilor’s colleagues.

استجاب وزير الكهرباء الشيخ عبد الله بن سلمان آل خليفة للجهود المكثفة التي قام بها رئيسا مجلسي بلدي الشمالية والوسطى يوسف البوري وعبدالرحمن الحسن، وقرر سحب الشكوى التي كانت الوزارة قد تقدمت بها للنيابة العامة ضد عضو بلدي الوسطى صادق ربيع، على خلفية اتهاماته للوزارة بالفساد في مؤتمر صحافي عقده الشهر الماضي.

وكان الوزير، قد استقبل أمس (الخميس) وفداً بلدياً ضم رئيس بلدي الشمالية يوسف البوري والوسطى عبدالرحمن الحسن، ونائبه عباس محفوظ، إضافة إلى عضو بلدي الوسطى صادق ربيع، وذلك للتفاهم والتنسيق بشأن القضية المشار إليها، فيما ثمن بلدي الوسطى، موقف الوزير واستجابته مشكورا بسحب القضية من النيابة العامة، على أن تسلم جميع الملفات ذات العلاقة للوزير لدراستها ومتابعتها مع المجلس البلدي
الوقت – ٢٠/Ù¤/٢٠٠٧

This is good news of course. Apart from the fact that – in an impartial judicial system – there is no way that the minister would win this case; the Ministry of Electricity’s reputation in particular is far from pure, he has shown complete intolerance to criticism and rather than asking for the allegations to be brought forward to be rationally discussed and any shortcomings identified and eradicated, he has taken the now fashionable line which is “sue now, ask questions later.”

What was the end result of this action then? A meeting between the two protagonists took place and promises were made that the shortcomings identified by the municipal councillor will be documented and treated.

Why this was not done from day one and save time and spent reputations is anyone’s guess. The result as far as I can see is that it has now become de rigeur to sue without any thought at what these actions by high officials actually do to the reputation of the country as a whole.

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Case Deferred

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We went to the court this morning with a number of people already present and offered their support. But due to the main judge’s family bereavement, for which I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Shaikh Mohammed bin Ali on the passing of his mother, the case has been administratively deferred to be heard on May 8th.

I would also like to sincerely thank everyone who was present and all of those who called, emailed and texted their support as well.

In particular I would like to thank the lead advocate Ms. Fatima Al-Hawaj and the legal team offered by the Bahrain Human Rights Society to assist Ms. Al-Hawaj in the case, Lawyers Nawaf Al-Sayed and Lo’ay Qarouni; Tawfiq Al-Rayyash, Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, the head of the Bahrain Journalists Union Mohammed Fadhel, journalists Mohammed Al-Sawwad from Al-Waqt (who was involved very recently in a similar case), Mohammed Aslam of the GDN, Mohammed Abbas of Reuters, Sandeep Singh Grewal from the Bahrain Tribune and Adel Al-Shaikh from Al-Wasat.

I would also like to sincerely thank my family who have always stood by me. My wife Frances, my brother Jamal and sister Maha as well as my children. I am sure that if my other siblings were in Bahrain they would have not hesitated an instant by being present to offer their support.

The legal team have asked for the case’s documents for their review and preparation, and we await the new court’s date to present our case before the High Criminal Court.

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Thoughts on tomorrow

Thank you all for your unstinting support. I truly appreciate it.

What I want to emphasize, if I may, this is not really a case against Mahmood Al-Yousif as much as it is a case against the tenets of the freedom of expression.

We, the people, should not be cowed into a status of never questioning or criticising a government official no matter how high that position is. They have to realise themselves, or be made to realise that the positions they occupy being called “civil servants” is no accident of nomenclature, but fact.

Unfortunately, both the Penal Code and the Press & Publications Law specifically not only discourages this civic responsibility of criticism, but glaringly criminalise it!

Is it any wonder that these very officials have risen within their own spheres to a status of demi-gods, inviolate, unapproachable and completely disconnected with the very people they are sworn to serve?

Parliament, on the other hand, continues to prevaricate and hasn’t even scheduled discussions on a retooled Press & Publications law which will elevate freedoms of expression in all its forms, concerning themselves more with perceived sorcerers and witches!

No, this is not a case against Mahmood Al-Yousif and never was. What I have written is rather mild when you consider it. This is a case purposefully levied to silence criticism.

Today it is me. Tomorrow it is everyone who dares to even glance “wrongly” at a public official, even if that official happens to be a janitor.

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At the High Court at 9:30 for 10:00

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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.

Thank you.

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جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية تستنكر محاكمة البلوغر البحريني محمود اليوسف

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ندعو الصحافيين للإحتشاد أمام المحكمة

الجفير – جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية – الأحد الموافق 15 ابريل 2007
تدعو جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية جميع المنتمين للجسم الصحافي في البحرين إلى الإحتشاد والتضامن مع البلوغر البحريني محمود اليوسف، وذلك أمام المحكمة الجنائية الكبرى يوم غد الثلاثاء القادم الموافق 17 أبريل 2007 في القضية المرفوعة ضده من قبل وزير البلديات منصور بن رجب.

هذا وتهيب الجمعية بجميع الصحفيين التواجد في قاعة المحكمة وإعلان تضامنهم مع اليوسف تجاه هذه القضية التي تستهدف حرية الرأي والكلمة في البحرين. وتعلن عن إستنكارها لإصرار الوزير في إقامة دعواه ضد اليوسف، خاصة وأن موضوع الدعوى يتعلق بمقالة إنترنتية كان اليوسف يتناول فيها الوزير بصفته الإعتبارية لا الشخصية. كما وتدعو الجمعية جميع مؤسسات المجتمع المدني الحقوقية والسياسية والإجتماعية إلى التضامن بالحضور وإطلاق البيانات الداعمة لليوسف. كما وتعلن الجمعية أنها قد طلبت من المحامية فاطمة الحواج تولي مهام الدفاع عن محمود اليوسف، وتشكر الجمعية المحامية الحواج على إستجابتها السريعة لذلك.

إن جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية تدرك خطورة الإستمرار في مثل هذه المحاكمات التي تسعى إلى تقويض واحد من أهم المكتسبات الوطنية في العهد الإصلاحي لجلالة الملك حمد بن عيسى آل خليفة وهو الكلمة الحرة التي لا يمكن لجمعية الصحفيين أن تقف مكتوفة الأيدي أمام محاولات إغتيالها.

إن جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية ومن هذه المنطلق تؤكد أنها ستسعى خلال الفترة القادمة إلى تفعيل أدواتها وعلاقاتها مع المنظمات الإقليمية والدولية. ساعية من خلال هذا التحرك إلى إيقاف هذه الحملات القضائية ضد الصحافيين في البحرين.

كما وتؤكد الجمعية، انها في تبنيها لقضية البلوغر البحريني محمود اليوسف قد راعت الإلتزامات والسياقات القانونية للنشر الإلكتروني، معتبرة حرية التعبير في “المدونات” جزء لا يتجزأ من حرية الكلمة والتعليق وفق ما تقتضيه أدبيات ميثاق العمل الوطني ودستور مملكة البحرين 2002 وآخذة في الاعتبار تبني المؤسسات الدولية لحرية الصحافة العديد من القضايا المتعلقة بالمدونات والنشر الإلكتروني.

وإننا في جمعية الصحفيين إذ نصدر هذه الدعوة فإننا على ثقة بأن نزاهة القضاء البحريني ستكون داعمة لحرية الكلمة والتعبير. وإن الجمعية لتقدر في أعضاء الجسم الصحافي في البحرين سواء الأعضاء المنتمين أو من هم خارجها إستجابتهم لهذه الدعوة للاحتشاد في يوم المحاكمة آملة في أن يستجيب الوزير لمطالبات سحب هذه الدعوى.

عادل مرزوق
نائب رئيس الجمعية

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.

Adel Marzooq
Vice President
Bahrain Journalists Association

note: translation to English is my attempt

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Libel case to be heard in the High Criminal Court!

bin Rajab vs Al-Yousif High Criminal Court summons

I received a summons yesterday delivered to my home instructing me to present myself at the High Criminal Court next Tuesday (17 April 2007) charged under both the Penal Code (3/92, 364, 365) and the Press & Publications Law 47/2002 (3/4, 72, 77) in the defamation case brought against me by a sitting minister; H. E. Mansour Hassan bin Rajab, the Minister of Agricultural Affairs and Municipalities relating to my criticism of his public figure and that of his ministry for lackadaisical performance in executing their duties.

I am grateful for the various mediation efforts enacted on my behalf which have gained the Minister’s assurances – twice – that he would drop the case; however, unfortunately this obviously has not happened.

I am very grateful for the tremendous support I have received from Bahraini and international journalists and friends in this regard. They not only promise to be present at the trial in a show of solidarity, but the Bahrain Journalists’ Association specifically have appointed Ms. Fatima Al-Hawaj to take up the defence of the case on my behalf.

I have also received and continue to receive the unstinting support from the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights as well as the Bahrain Human Rights Society. I truly appreciate their advice and their support.

I am convinced that I did no wrong. I have portrayed my criticism squarely at a public figure and a government organ both of whom I think did not execute their job to the full extent of their capability. This case is nothing more than a scare tactic to silence any form of criticism, especially that of a public official. Why else is a case like this is to be heard at the highest criminal court in the land? Why else is a defamation case looked at in the same court that adjudicates murder and treason cases?

I believe in our constitution, and believe in the human right of free speech and expression. I know that with your support I can go through this.

If you wish, you can show your support by writing about this case and you are more than welcome to be present at the court next Tuesday morning to show your support.

For background information about this case, please use the following link:
http://mahmood.tv/tag/bin-rajab

and full press coverage (so far) at:
http://mahmood.tv/bin-rajab-vs-al-yousif-libel-case/

A higher resolution image of the attached document (for publication) is available at:
http://mahmood.tv/pages/courtcase_binrajab_vs_alyousif_pp.jpg

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