Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Bahrain: Still fighting for change

Photo By Gail Orenstein for the web 3.0 lab/Clima-all rights reserved. See all web 3.0 lab photos on twitpic
The main opposition party may have its papers shut down by the government, but the people of Bahrain continue to use technology such as twitter to stay connected.

Twitter is buzzing with activity. The government may have shut the opposition paper Twitter keep the Bahrainis informed and connected to a common cause.

If you search facebook, it say site of Bahrain says it is a government-The government facebook site has 34,000 members, with very lively debates going on but is predominately pro government

Facebook also has some smaller sites which are clear opposition sites like free Bahrain with 1,147 members, clearly states it is a community organisation. So the newspapers may be shutting down, but the social networks continue to grow.

It is clear though that the government is using the social networks as well, as we see in facebook.

"The Bahraini government has arrested more than 300 opponents of the regime since the imposition of the state of emergency on March 15. But they do not want the wider world knowing about this.

On March 28, the military public prosecutor imposed a media gag, banning "any publishing, through print, audio, video and online media, based on the requirements of discretion and commitment to the principle of confidential investigation" - in line, it says, with the state of emergency.

On Wednesday, March 30, masked men in seven police cars descended on the home of Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights defender in Bahrain, when he was being interviewed by a CNN crew. They were all detained; the CNN crew was kept for four hours.

Bahrain had stopped production of its main opposition newspaper Al-Wasat [Reuters]

And on Saturday the only independent newspaper in Bahrain, Al-Wasat, was instructed by the Information Affairs Authority (IAA) not to publish its Sunday edition.

A Bahrain TV programme accused Al-Wasat of maliciously publishing misleading information which directly and deliberately posed a real threat to the kingdom's security and stability.

After the programme, publication of the newspaper was suspended and its officials were referred for investigation.

Al-Wasat is a rare mouthpiece for independent and opposition views. It had come under physical attack before and was struggling to keep getting the paper out.

Editor Mansoor al-Jamri had been threatened many times. On Sunday, he and the managing editor resigned in an attempt to save the paper. Al-Wasat came out today with a new editor and managing editor, but people on the ground say it is already clear that it is not the same paper it was before.

A leading journalist in the country said that newspapers and TV in Bahrain are controlled by the ruling family and the IAA is not under parliamentary supervision but reports directly to the king. It has close associations with the National Security Agency, whose deputy head is now head of the IAA. "The Bahrain News Agency (BNA) and the IAA are an integral part of the National Security Agency. News agencies like Al Jazeera are not tolerated and those who speak to them are deemed terrorists and traitors," the journalist said.

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Photo By Gail Orenstein for the web 3.0 lab/Clima-all rights reserved-see all web 3.0 photos on twitpic

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