The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in association with Reporters Without Borders have launched their Twitter ‘Thunderclap’ campaign called “Bahrain Racing in Circles“. The Thunderclap will send out a tweet on behalf of signatory users on 6 April 2014–the final day of the 2014 Formula One Grand Prix race–with the message:
“Whether they cover changing tires or burning tires, journalists must be allowed to work freely in Bahrain. #F1 http://thndr.it/1haU78B”.
Over 160 users have already signed onto the campaign, including Human Rights Watch, the International Trade Union Confederation and IFEX , totalling the social outreach to over 2 million people.
— CPJ MENA (@cpjmena) March 24, 2014
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) March 25, 2014
Both CPJ and Reporters Without Borders have been highly critical of the Bahraini regimes crackdown against journalists in the country. Recently, prominent award-winning photojournalist Ahmed Humaidan was sentenced to 10 years in prison for charges of ‘attacking a police station’ after attempting to document clashes in the village of Sitra. CPJ called his conviction “an attempt by Bahraini authorities to censor independent and dissident voices in the lead-up to the Formula One race in April”. CPJ has also classified Bahrain as the ‘second in the world for the highest number of imprisoned journalists per capita’.
Advocacy group Bahrain Watch have listed at least 221 instances of journalists, NGO’s and other potential government critics being denied entry into Bahrain in a project called ‘Access Denied‘.
CPJ and Reporters Without Borders Campaign Statement
Every year, the Bahraini government hopes the roar of Formula One cars will drown out criticism for the regime’s human rights violations. This year, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders asks YOU to ensure that does not happen.
Join us in calling on the government to allow journalists to report freely in Bahrain, whether they cover changing tires on the racetrack or burning tires on the street. Your participation in this Thunderclap will create a social media flash mob timed to the starting gun of the F1 race on April 6, 2014, at 6 p.m. local Bahraini time/11 a.m. EST. Together, our voices will be heard over the roar of race car engines.
The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders have documented a consistent attempt by the Bahraini government to censor the press since the launch of a mass protest movement on February 14, 2011. In that time, at least three news providers have been killed for their work and many more have been subject to arrest and even torture. Many news providers remain imprisoned today. Several journalists have been forced into exile in fear for their safety. The government has also limited access to international journalists and human rights organizations seeking to cover the ongoing unrest and repression in the country. Meanwhile, some protesters on the street have assaulted journalists considered sympathetic to the government.
With this cycle of censorship against the press, it’s clear that it’s not only F1 cars that are racing in circles in Bahrain. By joining this campaign, help us put a brake on press censorship. With your help, we can achieve our goal of reaching an audience of 1.3 million people—one for every person in Bahrain.
How to Show Your Support
- At the top of the page, choose to support the campaign with Twitter, Facebook, or both.
- Tell all of your friends and followers to join the campaign.
- On April 6, watch as everyone’s messages are simultaneously shared at the start of the F1 race.
- Continue speaking out for press freedom in Bahrain using the #F1 hashtag.
For more information on press freedom in Bahrain, please visit:
For more information about the 2014 Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix campaign visit: British MP Chairs Formula One Implications in Bahrain Event at Portcullis House