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Minister blocks YouTube channel

(BCHR/IFEX) - 22 January 2010 - The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) is closely monitoring the ongoing clampdown on Internet websites by the Ministry of Information and Culture, which most recently blocked a personal channel on the video sharing site YouTube.

This relatively new channel that goes by the name "Bahrain Rulers" seemed to have been quickly spreading and received many hits on YouTube. The channel mostly contained critical footage, using cartoons and other clip compositions to form short films about the main political figures in the country, including members of the government, in a satirical manner. This kind of mocking is a normal style of political critique in the media in Europe and the US, but it remains a new form of production in Bahrain that has not gained favour with the government, which is not able to control its content.

The BCHR considers the blocking of this site a further restriction on freedom of speech, which is enshrined in international law, particularly in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which emphasizes the right to freedom of opinion and expression without interference. On this basis, the BCHR urges the Bahraini authorities to stop blocking websites (including Internet forums, social and news outlets) and to ensure that people's rights enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights are protected, particularly freedom of expression and opinion.

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