Crackdown on citizen journalists ahead of August 14th protests

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Josh Shahryar writes for Christian Science Monitor:
With August 14 quickly approaching, citizen journalists are the government's new targets. A week ago, I spoke online with a citizen journalist inside Bahrain who told me his arrest might be imminent because he feared a crackdown had begun against him and his colleagues. He had good reason to worry. At 3 am on July 31, fifteen masked men woke up Bahraini blogger Mohammed Hassan in his house and arrested him.


That evening, Hassan's best friend photographer Hussain Hubail was arrested by police at Bahrain's main airport. He managed to call his family to tell them he had been surrounded by police at the immigration check while he was trying to fly to Dubai. He, too, was only told that he was "wanted."
Less than 300 square miles in size and with a population of 1.2 million, half of them non-nationals, Bahrain's capital Manama and its scattering of villages each have their own bloggers and photographers to cover the unrest. Hassan and Hubail were responsible for disseminating information from the village of Sitra, in the east.

Their arrests were followed on Aug. 2 by Qassim Zainaldeen's, a photographer from the village of Diraz in the north. The culprits again were masked men who took him away from his home in the wee hours of the morning with his electronic equipment. All three were transferred to the main prison at the dry docks after several days of no news about their whereabouts.


"Under the frame and discourse of terrorism, the Bahraini regime is attempting to prevent protests from taking place," Maryam AlKhawaja, the Acting President of BCHR, told me over the phone from Copenhagen in Denmark. She accused the government of going after citizen journalists and activists to make coverage of the protests impossible. She tried to fly into Bahrain this Friday, but was turned away at the airport in Copenhagen, told by her airline that she was on a list of people banned from entering Bahrain.

Her BCHR colleague Said Yousif is not surprised by how blatantly the citizen journalists were detained. "Since April, 700 protesters have been arrested and over 100 have been injured in protest due to police brutality," he said.

Now it seems it's the citizen journalists' turn.
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