Protest Photographers Arrested

Human Rights Watch report that Authorities in Bahrain are arbitrarily detaining photographers who have covered protests and convicting them in unfair trials. Four award-winning Bahraini photographers are either in jail or facing criminal charges in what appears to be part of a policy that violates photographers’ right to freedom of expression.”

Today (22 June 2014) Hussain Hubail is appealing a five-year sentence for taking part in an ‘llegal gathering‘ and inciting hatred of the government for photographing a protest, and on June 25, Ahmed Humaidan appeals against a ten-year sentence. You can see some of his work on 500 pix. (I’ve just heard that Hubail’s appeal has been postponed until August 20th.)

Photographers say that they are targeted by police because their pictures show the reality that the Bahrain government wants to hide, and are subjected to mistreatment when arrested. Ahmed al-Fardan was arrested in the early hours of December 26, 2013 and his cameras, hard drives and flash drives taken. He was blindfolded, handcuffed a kept in a freezing cell for interrogations – and comes to trial on September 14th.

al-Farden like me submits work to Demotix, and it is distributed by Corbis. Among the events he has covered was a Demonstration in support of arrested photographers in Bahrain on 25 October 2013. An earlier group of pictures, Political Participation and Toxic Gas won him first prize in Freedom House’s 2013 Images of Repression and Freedom. You can see many of his pictures from protests on Demotix.

Although I’ve occasionally been pushed, hit and threatened by police covering protests in London, the situation is clearly very different here and usually at least our authorities are much more subtle. Photographers may sometimes be taken to court to get them to produce their pictures as evidence, and I have friends who have got settlements after being assaulted by police, but we simply don’t face the same problems here as in Bahrain.

Protesters here don’t get shot by police, though occasionally a criminal suspect or innocent person has been, as well as some people detained in police stations. We can all remember cases like that of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson who died after being assaulted by a police officer at a protest – or Alfie Meadows, very nearly killed and prosecuted for assaulting a a police officer, but these are exceptional.

The UK establishment mainly simply ignores protests. I’m writing this on the day after a protest on the streets of London by anywhere from 15-50,000 people. It started outside the BBC so they could not miss it, but they only reported it – in a short and vague fashion – after many, many protests to them by phone, e-mail and tweets. To get the story in any detail meant going to foreign-based news channels or left-leaning news sheets. Even Demotix, although it publishes the pictures, no longer publishes the stories that go with them.

One Response to “Protest Photographers Arrested”

  1. Shocking news now from Egypt, where The Guardian reports that “three journalists for Al-Jazeera English were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in jail on charges of aiding terrorists and endangering national security” in what was clearly a farcial trial that is clearly as the article comments, “a shocking blow to the principle of free speech.”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.