Alert: Human Rights Website Censored in Bahrain

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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1. Background

The website of the HAQ Movement of Liberties and Democratic Bahrain (www.haaq.org) is yet another human rights website that has been censored by the information ministry of Bahrain this year. This censorship is part of the Bahraini regime’s major clamp down on any views/expressions which are deemed to be against the government.

This is the 26th time this year that a human rights website has been censored by the information ministry. Currently, 18 websites are banned by the ministry. Most of them are discussion forums and political websites.

The HAQ movement is a popular human rights and political organization in Bahrain, established in November 2005. However, it is not registered under the national Civic Organizations Law number 21 of 1989 and the Political Societies Law number 26 of 2005, which impose a legal restriction on all civic organizations to operate within the boundaries defined by the authorities. According to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), another major human rights organization whose website has been blocked in Bahrain, these laws are considered to be in violation of well-known international covenants and charters. Nevertheless, since the HAQ movement’s website is not registered under these laws, it is considered illegal by the authorities and has been banned.

According to BCHR, by censoring such websites the authorities are trying to curb the ‘online reporting of political scandals’, such as the Bandergate Scandal, which is about the ‘misappropriation of public lands, administrative and financial corruption, discrimination and favouritism.’

The Bahraini government has reportedly been increasingly trying to impose its views and principals on the public. This incident is yet another case in Bahrain where the government has used its authority to suppress opinions/views deemed inappropriate or contrary to those propagated by itself. In other reported case the authorities have gone to extreme lengths to curb the opposition, resorting to violent means in many cases.

2. Action Required

Write to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain in your country requesting them to lift the ban on the HAQ Movement website and grant people the right to freedom of expression and association.

UK campaigners can write to:

HE Shaikh Khalifa bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Khalifa
Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain
30 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8QB

Fax: 0207 201 9183
Email: enquiries@bahrainembassy.co.uk

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Sample Letter to HE Shaikh Khalifa bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Khalifa

[Your Name]
[Your Address]

[Date]

HE Shaikh Khalifa bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Khalifa
Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain
30 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8QB

Dear Shaikh Khalifa bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Khalifa,

Re: HAQ Movement Website Banned in Bahrain

I am deeply concerned about the recent action taken by the Bahraini government to ban the HAQ Movement website which is a popular human rights and political website.

The HAQ Movement was performing a good service in Bahrain’s political arena by providing the public with alternative political viewpoints and speaking out against injustice and human rights abuse in Bahrain. However, it was banned because it was not registered under the civil laws set up by the authorities, which impose a legal restriction on all civic organizations. Many human rights groups in Bahrain are of the opinion that these laws are considered to be in violation of well-known international covenants and charters.

Today, when many societies are making efforts to implement democratic values and to uphold civil liberties, it is very disappointing to see a Muslim nation, which should have been the foremost in this noble cause, withholding these rights from its citizens. I therefore request your government to lift the ban from the HAQ Movement website and allow the citizens of Bahrain their right to freedom of association and to peacefully express their views and opinions. I also request your government to ensure that all laws in Bahrain are in support of the growth and strengthening of civil society institutions for the benefit of all.

I look forward to hearing from you soon on this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,

[Your Signature]
[Your Name]

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Wembley
HA9 7XH
United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183
Email: info@ihrc.org
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