Human Rights and Media Coverage
Since 14 February 2011, Bahrain has had extensive media coverage
from international media and civil society organizations. European,
American and Gulf political delegations visited Bahrain in order
to get a firsthand account of the situation, provide advice for
the various political parties and support the regime.
The presence of international human rights organizations such
as Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), and FIDH
was noticeable. The delegations from these organizations came for
fact-finding missions, and hence met officials, protesters, civil
society organizations, NIHR, victim’s families and political societies.
The delegations also visited hospitals, which received the dead
and met with the injured, nurses and doctors. These organizations
issued many statements condemning the use of violence and called
for an investigation into the reasons behind the death of protesters,
and the reasons behind the clashes between security forces and protesters.
They demanded that those responsible for human rights violations
be held to account and to compensate the injured. In addition, legal
and administrative measures should be taken in order to prevent
the recurrence of these incidents. International human rights organizations
issued statements welcoming the release of detainees held on security
and political grounds, and also welcomed the establishment of an
investigation committee, which was ordered by the king.
The noticeable presence of human rights organizations and their
extensive communication with official bodies, civil society organizations
and political societies helped all parties to control their action
Human rights organizations continue to monitor the events as
they occur. Some of them are already preparing detailed and lengthy
reports regarding the recent events. Usually these reports conclude
with practical and legal recommendations, urging the Government
to take specific steps to avoid more violations.
During these events Bahrain also witnessed unprecedented media
coverage from Reuters, AFP, DPA, AP, and many other Arab and foreign
news agencies. Satellite channels were also present in high numbers
and constantly provided live coverage, including: BBC, CNN, and
to some extent Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. Also, facebook and twitter
provided live internet coverage of the unfolding events.
Foreign media and human rights organizations were given the freedom
to broadcast their reports without any pressure or harassment. On
the other hand, Bahraini state media was forced to change its rhetoric,
in order to conform to the new political reality. The State TV channel
sent reporters to interview the protesters at the Loulou Roundabout
and at Al Fatih Mosque. The protesters aired their demands, opinions,
and even insults during these interviews. Generally, the State TV
channel presented all the different points of view, unlike its counterparts
in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen.
In general, the extensive presence of foreign media coverage
on Bahrain provided an accurate account of the political developments
in the country. It highlighted the fears and demands of the different
political parties, and revealed the size of the political movements
in the street. It also reflected the concerns and aspirations of
the public, and revealed the weakness in the Government’s performance.
Foreign media coverage also helped to expand the margin of freedom
of expression, and helped develop the political discourse in the
It is noteworthy that many rumours were spread during the first
days of the clashes. This forced the political parties to speak
directly to the public in order to clarify their position e.g. the
Crown Prince, the Foreign Minister, and prominent opposition figures.
All of whom, gave statements and conducted interviews regarding
the events in the media.
In summary, the local and international media coverage of Bahrain
was useful, because the world was a witness to the events and was
able to advise Bahrain. We hope that Bahrain remains open to all
forms of media and human rights organizations.