Sunday, April 26, 2009

IFEX - News from the international freedom of expression community

IFEX - News from the international freedom of expression community


24 April 2009

More websites and blogs blocked by authorities

SOURCE: Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Manama

(BCHR/IFEX) - The Bahraini authorities have widened their campaign against
all Internet outlets, inside and outside Bahrain, which covers all aspects
of public affairs in the country. The lastest victims of the site-blocking
campaign, led by Mai Al-Khalifa, the Minister of Culture and Information,
are , a Washington-based news site, and , the blog of female activist Ghada
Jamsheer. The authorities have also blocked the alerts site that lists reports about any posting or updates
made by bloggers in Bahrain and includes alerts from the BCHR site: . All sites were blocked on the morning of 21
April 2009.

The Aafaq site is a webpage of news, views and reports covering many
countries. It is managed by an independent US-based owner and focuses on
political and other developments in Bahrain and the Arab region.
Bahrain-eve, on the other hand, is a personal blog owned by Jamsheer, who
is well-known for her views on women and other human rights issues.

The campaign is managed by a special branch reporting directly to the
minister, who explicitly stated in her resolution that the decision to
impose or lift a block on a particular site is under her discretion. This
contradicts the cause of the campaign which is said to focus on
pornography-related sites. Since its launch on January, the attack on
Internet sites has included personal blogs, public forums, NGOs' and human
rights webpages, political, religious, cultural, and other sites which
reflect dissident views, news and reports on public issues.

As per a report by a project launched by the Berkman Center for Internet
and Society at Harvard University, up to this moment there are "598 reports
of inaccessible sites in Bahrain, 159 of which are unique". The enormity of
the figure is a result of the spectrum of sites blocked based on certain
tags and keywords which include the word "proxy", something which users
have used to bypass the block.

Nabeel Rajab, president of BCHR, responded to this latest move: "One can
see that the State is going hysterical and (is not acting rationally) in
the way it is treating dissident views and issues of relation to public
affairs". He added: "They want to control every in and out byte of
information. We all know this is impossible and the state advisors should
voice that this is a lost war against freedom of expression and exchange of
information in the high tech world we are living in".


Send appeals to authorities asking them to:
- lift the ban and blockage on the Aafaq news site and the Bahrain-eve
blog, as well as all public affairs sites
- put an end to the campaign against all forms of freedom of expression and
lift the ban on dissident voices on the web
- repeal all administrative resolutions targeting web accessibility and
restricting freedom of expression, and constrain the Minister of
Information's involvement in media censorship
- amend the Press Code of 2002, ensuring its conformity to international


His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa
King of Bahrain

Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa
Cabinet Prime Minister
Fax: +97 3 1 721 1363

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

Updates alert on the recent online crackdown:

For further information contact Nabeel Rajab, President, BCHR, Manama,
Bahrain, tel: +973 3963 3399 / 3940 0720, fax: +973 1779 5170, e-mail:,, Internet:; Facebook: English Group:, Arabic Group:

The information contained in this update is the sole responsibility of
BCHR. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit
555 Richmond St. West, # 1101, PO Box 407
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5V 3B1
tel: +1 416 515 9622 fax: +1 416 515 7879
alerts e-mail: general e-mail:
Internet site:

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