Academic journal article Journal of International Affairs

Reporting Behind Bars: An Interview with Mohammed Al Oraibi

Academic journal article Journal of International Affairs

Reporting Behind Bars: An Interview with Mohammed Al Oraibi

Article excerpt

Peaceful protests in Bahrain, the small island nation in the Persian Gulf, began in February 2011, shortly after the Arab Spring erupted in Tunisia. The situation quickly devolved as Bahraini riot police used tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition on protesters. After several months, the country's ruler, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, established the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which found that the court system had convicted hundreds of people who were exercising their right of freedom of assembly. Despite the commission calling for the release of these prisoners, a May 2014 Human Rights Watch report concluded that little has changed since 2011. Restricted press freedoms have also led to severe crackdowns on photographers and journalists who have used social media to cover the unfolding events. Several award-winning photographers remain in prison, including Hussain Hubail and Ahmed Humaidan, who are serving five-and ten-year sentences, respectively. A third photographer, Sayed al-Mousawi has been detained since February of this year. A collection of photographs taken by the trio is published within this issue of the Journal. Meanwhile, civil unrest and demonstrations continue against King Hamad. The Journal of International Affairs also spoke with ex-detainee and photographer Mohammed Al Oraibi from Bahrain to give some context to the situation that media professionals currently face. (1)

Journal of International Affairs: Can you describe the circumstances under which you were detained?

Al Oraibi: I became a photographer ten years ago. Since the protests started in 2010 and 2011, it has become very important for me to show the true picture of Bahrain to the world: what is actually happening between the regime and the people, without any filter. Since the revolution in 2011, the regime has been attacking anyone using social media to stop them from showing other countries what was happening here. They took us to jail just to prevent us from publishing our photographs.

The conditions were very bad in jail. …

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