Three years ago, hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis descended to the streets to demand change. A harsh government crackdown and the turn to violence by some protesters have since dampened the hope lit on February 14, 2011. In this context, we asked Bahrainis and Bahrain observers on Twitter how they think the status of press freedom has changed in the country. We know what we think: The Bahraini government has fallen terribly short of its own rhetoric of reform. But we wanted to hear directly from those who work and live in Bahrain every day.
Below is a Storify of some of the answers we received.
For two years, Bahrainis have been asking "Where is Ali Abdel Imam?" And now finally, they have an answer.
The prominent opposition blogger suddenly emerged from hiding last week, announcing he had been granted asylum in the United Kingdom, news sources reported.
He had not been heard from since March 17, 2011, when he cryptically tweeted, "I get tired from my phone so I switched it of no need for rumors plz." The Bahraini government had just declared a state of emergency, as massive reform protests rocked the island country. Abdel Imam, who had already been arrested twice before for his work, feared the government would arrest him again in an impending crackdown. So when they came for him the following day, Abdel Imam made sure he wasn't there. He had not been heard from since--until last week.
New York, September 6, 2012--Bahraini authorities should toss out the unjust conviction and life sentence handed to an online journalist who was imprisoned for exercising his right to free expression during the country's 2011 popular uprising, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
CPJ is among 50 organizations that have signed a joint letter to Bahrain's king calling for the release of detained bloggers, activists, and human rights defenders and to drop all charges that violate the right to peaceful expression ahead of the Formula One motor racing event to be held in Manama on April 22.
New York, September 28, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's decision by the appeals chamber of Bahrain's Court of National Safety to uphold lengthy prison terms for 21 individuals, including two online journalists and a prominent human rights defender. In separate press freedom violations, authorities prevented a newspaper from covering Saturday's parliamentary by-election, and an independent journalist has faced persistent harassment.
New York, June 22, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's politicized verdict in which 21 bloggers, human rights activists, and members of the political opposition were found guilty of plotting to topple the monarchy. Today's court ruling further cements 2011 as the worst year for press freedom in Bahrain since the island kingdom declared its independence in 1971.
Dear Sheikh Al-Khalifa: The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, is deeply concerned about the ongoing detention and trial of prominent Bahraini bloggers Ali Abdel Imam and Abdeljalil Alsingace. We're outraged by allegations of torture made by the two bloggers, along with those made by 23 activists and opposition figures.
New York, September 7, 2010--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Bahraini authorities to release Ali Abdel Imam, a leading online journalist who was arrested Saturday on charges of spreading "false information." The arrest is the latest in the government's ongoing crackdown on dissent.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.