International rights groups are calling for the release of a prominent photographer in Bahrain, who is being held in prison for documenting anti-government protests in that country. Reporters Without Borders joins the Committee to Protect Journalists in calling for the immediate release of Ahmed Jaber Al-Fardan. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) says that nationalsecurity forces conducted a dawn raid on his family home, confiscating his camera and electronic equipment. According to Al-Fardan’s family, police showed no warrants.
Al-Fardan is a former member of the Photographic Society of America (PSA) and a contributor to the Italian Nur Photo agency. He has won awards from both IFEX and Freedom House for his work, which has appeared in media outlets across the world.
In a separate incident the same day, security forces arrested photographer Jaffar Abdul-Nabi Marhoon from a barber shop in his village. Eye witnesses told rights officials that he was severely beaten during the arrest.
Marhoon’s apprehension brings to seven the number of photographers now held in Bahrain jails.
“We also call on the Bahraini authorities to stop using arbitrary detention to gag dissident journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Such practices constitute a grave threat to freedom of information and flout Bahrain’s international obligations.”
BCHR says these arrests are part of an escalating suppression campaign by authorities against photographers who, through their cameras, document police and security abuses against demonstrators. The group is calling on the US, UK and UN to pressure Bahraini authorities to:
- Immediately release all the detained photographers and allow them to work without fear;
- Stop what they say is a systematic policy of targeting photographers, journalists and bloggers;
- Hold accountable all those involved in the violations and torture whether by supervision and /or order;
- Drop all charges related to freedom of expression in ongoing trials.