The International Award-winning Ahmed Al-Fardan is subjected to Enforced Disappearance as a Punishment for Practicing his Profession on Ground
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses it concern for the escalating suppressive campaign led by the Authority in Bahrain against the photographers present on ground who deliver through their cameras the violations practiced by the Authority against public gatherings. The security apparatuses had lately arrested two photographers on 26 December 2013, and they are the photographer Ahmed Jaber Al-Fardan and the photographer Jaffar Marhoon in two separate incidents.
Al-Fardan’s family stated that civilian members affiliated with the National Security Apparatus accompanied by police vehicles raided his house at dawn on Thursday 26 December 2013, and confiscated a number of his electronic devices. The family added that those who raided the house did not show any court order to search the house or any arrest warrant for Al-Fardan, which is causing the concern for his safety and the fear that he might be subjected to torture or any other violation amid the non-disclosure of his whereabouts.
Worth mentioning is that Al-Fardan is a photographer who works with the Italian (NurPhoto) agency as a contributing photographer and a former member of the Photographic Society of America (PSA). Al-Fardan had won many international awards in recognition for his skills in photography and to celebrate the exceptional photos he presents. The most recent award he had received was from IFEX in the International Contest to Expose Impunity on 23 November 2013. Before that he had received the Freedom House Photography Prize who condemned his arrest in a published statement and it urged the Authority in Bahrain to maintain freedom of peaceful gathering and freedom of press.
In a separate incident, and amid mysterious circumstances, the Forces kidnapped the photographer Jaffar Abdul-Nabi Marhoon on 26 December 2013 from a barber shop in his village, eye witnesses stated that he was severely beaten during arrest. The village had witnessed a high security alert before the family realized that their son Jaffar had disappeared. Jaffar’s house had been raided more than five times with the intent to arrest him.
In addition to Al-Fardan and Marhoon, five other photographers are currently held at the Bahraini prisons. After arresting the photographer Hassan Matooq on 24 March 2011 and sentencing him to three years in prison due to taking photos of injuries of citizens who were subjected to suppression and violations at the time of the peaceful protest in the Pearl Roundabout in Manama in March 2011, the security authorities arrested the photographer Ahmed Humaidan on 28 December 2012 from the cinema and was subjected to torture and intimidation by carrying a fake bomb and forcing him to confess to committing terrorist acts. After Humaidan, airport security forces arrested the young photographer Hussein Hubail on 31 July 2013 while he was heading to Dubai through Bahrain’s International Airport. Hubail’s family stated that he was subjected to harassments inside prison and deliberate neglect to his health condition which caused it to deteriorate. The security apparatuses also arrested the photographer Qassim Zen-al-deen on Friday 2 August 2013 when they stormed his house at dawn without showing a court order to arrest him, and they confiscated his electronic devices. The riot police also arrested the photographer on ground Abdullah Salman Al-Jirdabi on 13 September 2013 who was beaten by the security forces on the way to the police station, where he was injured in the knee due to the beating and wounded under his lips. Information received indicated that he was threatened with further harassments after the forces knew that he was a photographer. Al-Jirdabi is still on remand in prison on the charge of illegal gathering; he complains of the lack of necessary medication for a pain in his eye.
- Put pressure on the Authority in Bahrain to take into consideration and maintain human rights especially those related to freedom of press and dissemination of information;
- Trialing Bahrain internationally for the continuous and repetitive violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it had already endorsed, especially Article 19 that is related to freedom of expression;
- Put pressure on Bahrain to sign an optional protocol that allows holding the Authority in Bahrain internationally accountable for its violations of human rights, especially those related to freedom of opinion and expression.
It also calls on the Authority in Bahrain to:
- Immediately release all the detained photographers and allow them to unconditionally practice their right without any harassments;
- Stop the systematic policy of targeting photographers, journalists and bloggers;
- Hold accountable all those involved in the violations and torture whether by supervision and / or order and subject them to questioning, especially the higher ranking ones;
- Drop all charges related to freedom of expression in the ongoing trials.