2/09/2012

Bahrain refuses journalists seeking to cover protest anniversary

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Bahrain has turned down several journalists for visas to visit the Persian Gulf nation on the one-year anniversary of sweeping antigovernment protests next Tuesday, telling them it has gotten too many requests.
The rejected journalists include New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who was detained in Bahrain while watching protests in December, along with correspondents for the BBC, the Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor and other outlets. Several took to Twitter, saying they received letters citing the "high volume of requests" as the reason for being turned down.
“This is the hallmark of a repressive regime -- not allowing journalists into the country,” said Brian Dooley of the nonprofit Human Rights First. He was turned down for a visa in January. “The government is only fueling suspicions that they don’t want the rest of the world to see what’s going to happen.”
Bahrain, an island state near Saudi Arabia run by a Sunni Muslim monarchy, has been roiled by violent protests during the last year. Protesters have agitated for greater democracy, saying that Shiite Muslims are systematically discriminated against. The demonstrations kicked off Feb. 14, 2011.
Bahrain cracked down on the protests last year with help from Saudi forces. Human rights groups say dissenters were met with arrest and torture. Bahrain's monarch created new military courts that sentenced more than 250 people to heavy punishments, including death, Human Rights Watch said.
Journalists were targeted too: Bahraini reporters have been arrested, and foreign journalists have been granted visas so limited -- some as short as 48 hours -- that their work is hampered, according to Reporters Without Borders. The group recently ranked Bahrain 173rd out of 179 countries in press freedom.
latimesblogs.latimes.com

Bahrain refuses AFP visa request

Bahraini authorities have rejected a visa request by AFP to cover the first anniversary of the pro-democracy Shia-led protest that was brutally crushed.
The Information Affairs Authority told AFP on Tuesday it was unable to process a visa for one of its reporters "due to the high volume of applications."
The authorities have yet to respond to AFP's request to accredit a local photographer, after having banned AFP's local correspondent from reporting last spring.
nowlebanon.com/NewsAr..

The following journalists have made it public that they have received rejection letters to their visa requests:

1- Nicholas Kristof (NY Times): He was in Bahrain Dec 2011, and was briefly arrested and tear gassed
#Bahrain has rejected my visa application for this month's 1-year anniversary protests,while saying I can reapply later.
(here)

2- Kristen Chick (The Christian Science Monitor)
#Bahrain denied me a visa for next week due to "high volume of requests." I wasn't aware they had a quota for # of journos allowed at 1 time
(here)

3- Cara Swift (BBC)
Same here. We just got the same message MT @kristenchick#Bahrain denied me a visa for next week due to "high volume of requests. #14Feb
(here)

4- Adam B. Ellick (NY Times) , while in Bahrain Dec 2011, he was briefly arrested and tear gassed
#bahrain just rejected my visa due to "high volume of applications." in my last story, gov said "we believe in the media." must be so busy!
(here)
btw, #bahrain said i'm welcome to re-apply after Feb, which is the one-year anniversary of the protests movement.
(here)

5- Alex Delmar-Morgan (The Wall Street Journal) - He was in Bahrain March 2011, was arrested by National Guard (March 16, 2011) (Photo):
#bahrain want a media blackout for #feb14 first anniversary. I've just had a journalist visa turned down...
(here)
#bahrain says: "unfortunately due to the high volume of applications we will not be able to grant your visa for the specified dates..."
(here)
..but we would like you to come and at the end of Feb when we'll be celebrating the the implementation of the #BICI #bahrain
(here)

6- Gregg Carlstrom (Al-Jazeera)
#Bahrain seems to be rejecting *every* journalist's visa application right now. Their reason: "Due to the high volume of applications..."
(here)
#bahrain doesn't want journos for Feb. 14 anniversary; they want us at the end of Feb., when national commission issues its report on BICI.
(here)
@kristenchick Ha, exactly. But please do come back in a few weeks when we hope to get better PR out of you!
(here)


As a note, in the past few weeks, Bahrain has also denied entry to representative of some of the civil society and human rights organizations who were supposed to come to Bahrain in Jan and Feb 2012:
- Bahrain Denies Brian Dooley Entry , Human Rights First
- Deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) barred from entering Bahrain to attend the trial
- Freedom House Delegation Denied Entry to Bahrain

Also read:
Congressmen Confront Bahrain Over Recent NGO Visa Restrictions