AWMW in UK Condemns Brutal Assault of Journalist by Police in Bahrain
The Arab Women Media Watch Centre in UK (AWMW) joins the Bahrain association of Journalists (BJA) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in condemning the savage beating and inhuman treatment of Bahraini female reporter Nazeeha Saeed who was arrested on 22 May over the story she had filed about the repression of anti-government protesters.
Nazeeha was covering the uprising for France24 and Radio Monte Carlo at the loulou Roundabout area, when she was summoned by phone to come to the Rafa police station, south of Bahrain for questioning over her report on the death of Ali Abdelhassan who was allegedly killed by security forces during the anti-government protests of 17 February 2011. Upon her arrival, a black cloth bag was placed over her head, and female police women started interrogating her, asking whether she went to the Loulou roundabout where the rebels sat. Nazeeha replied yes, since she considers this as part of her job as a reporter. As soon as she replied, the police women started slapping her on the face and a police woman started lashing her with a plastic water hose over various parts of her body until she fell on the ground. Then the police women began kicking her by their feet, and according to a number of reports published on Arabic websites and online forums, a bottle of urine was poured over her head and she was dragged by the hair to the bathroom. She was released after her 12 hours ordeal, bearing torture marks.
According to reports, at the time Nazeeha was subjected to humiliation and torture, a number of female nurses were summoned to the same police station and were savagely beaten up and tortured in the same manner.
“It is shocking to hear about such cruelty and horrible acts of torture, abuse of women’s human rights and the inhumane treatment of female journalists in Bahrain, where their rights are supposed to be protected by the Supreme Council for Women, which is chaired by the king’s wife herself. We demand a full transparent investigation and hope whoever was responsible for such brutality will be held accountable” said Iqbal Tamimi, Director of AWMW in UK.
IFJ condemned this brutal attack as well, “We are appalled by this senseless and cruel treatment of a working journalist and we urge the Bahraini authorities to hold accountable the officers involved,” said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. “The brutal behaviour of security forces towards Saeed shows there is no end to media repression in Bahrain and the world must make it clear that these gross violations of peaceful protesters’, women’s and journalists’ rights will not go unpunished.”
The IFJ has accused the Bahraini government of widespread intimidation and systematic harassment against journalists which have already led to the arrests and sackings of at least 68 media personnel in the country since the start of the protests for political reforms.
The Federation is taking part in a protest visit to the embassy of Bahrain in Brussels today. The protest jointly organised by the IFJ, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Education International (EI) and the Belgian trade unions ACV/CSV, ABCC/FGTB and ACLVB/CGSLB. The organisers will deliver a letter calling, among other measures, for the immediate release of all detained trade unionists, teachers, journalists and workers as well an end to all harassment against trade unions leaders and activists and respect for press freedom.