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BCHR report documents government's attempts to stifle online free expression

(BCHR/IFEX) - 17 May 2011 - The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its deep concern over the continuous crackdown on the freedom of individuals to express their views by Bahraini authorities.

In this report, BCHR focuses on the repression of free expression on the web. Bloggers and online activists have been targeted via death threats and detention orders, leading to a state of extreme self-censorship. Many websites that discuss local affairs and political events, including discussion forums and blogs run by Bahraini activists, have been blocked or shut down by authorities in Bahrain. The diversity of online content has been compromised as more bloggers are disappearing from the web following the closure of their websites and pages.

Since the public protests in February 2011 - which started after calls for demonstrations spread through Facebook - Bahraini activists and bloggers, like others worldwide, have made use of the readily available cyberspace and social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to broadcast what is happening in Bahrain. They are spreading information on public protests and documenting these with articles, pictures and videos. They have also started to share their thoughts and opinions about what is happening on these sites, as this has been their only channel for expression, and are spreading the news to the world. In contrast, the official media has refrained from presenting any anti-government views and has only been broadcasting a distorted version of the news of the protests, adapting the story to serve government objectives. Meantime, other media channels have been silent.

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