Authorities in Bahrain, Elsewhere Intensify Crackdown on Foreign Journalists (UPDATED FEB 19 1255GMT)
(HN, February 19, 2011) --- Across the Middle East and North Africa - journalists continue to find themselves in the line of fire.
Just yesterday in the Bahraini capital, Manama, Michael Slackman and Sean Patrick Farrell of The New York Times were recording video when a helicopter began firing in their direction. The two were amoing the few foreign journalists allowed into the tiny Gulf kingdom - more than a dozen were detained for hours upon arrival at Bahrain International Airport.
Commenting on the targeting of his colleagues in Bahrain, Times colunist Nicholas Kristof said: "It was another example of Bahrain targeting journalists, as King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa attempts to intimidate or keep out witnesses to his repression."
Nancy Yousseff, a journalist with McClatchy news agency has been held at least 15 hours at Bahrain's airport. Other detained journalists are said to be from Reuters, Time, BBC, France 24 and several Japanese news outlets.
The crackdown on journalists in recent weeks in countries in the Middle East and North Africa ranging from Egypt to Lybia to Syria underscores a growing risk being faced by working journalists covering widening street protests in the region, says the New York-based watchdog group Committee to Protect Journalists (see report below).
In Yemen, where protests are also gaining momentum - according to a HUMNEWS correspondent on the scene - the CPJ says at least four photojournalists were attacked, beaten, and had their cameras confiscated.
A CBS News crew arrived in Bahrain on Friday morning but some members were held at the airport by security officials, along with as many as 15 other foreign journalists, according to the Associated Press and other sources.
(The HUMNEWS correspondent reported at 1130GMT today that snipers have been stationed in the centre of Sana'a and that Skype has been blocked).
Also this afternoon, as Bahrani authorities were moving for a second time against protesters with live fire, Al Jazeera reported a journalist for the Daily Telegraph has also been shot.
In Iraq, Hemin Latif, a journalist working for the Sulaimaniya-based Destur news website (بینیتز ) was shot and injured yesterday while covering anti-government protests against unemployment and corruption, the CPJ says.
"Governments throughout the Middle East and North Africa cannot deny their citizens coverage of these momentous events across the region," Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator said today. "Local and international media must be allowed to cover the news."
In the CPJ report released yesterday, Attacks on the Press 2010, street protests were identified as a growing risk for journalists.
"Deaths in combat-related crossfire and in dangerous assignments such as street protests constituted a larger portion of the 2010 toll than usual," the report said.
In the street protests in Cairo, Egypt this month at least one journalist was killed and several injured and detained.
The CPJ report cites Bahrain as a country where "authorities have used harassment, threats, and restrictions on movement to limit independent coverage on sensitive issues."
It added: "The effect has been to conceal controversial activities and flawed policies, suppress political opposition, and settle scored with critics."
The CPJ says authorities in Bahrain have used the excuse of anti-terrorism to arrest hundreds of people - including at least two journalistic bloggers "who has been critical of government policies that marginalize the country's Shiite majority."