CAIRO: Mounting violations against journalists, photographers, bloggers and even newspaper vendors are taking place around the world, according to several organizations that support press freedom, which have reported on atrocities in Bahrain, Somalia, China, and Zimbabwe.
Bahraini photographer Sayed Ahmed Al-Mousawi was arrested and tortured on Feb. 10, according to a Feb. 28 report by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR).
Mousawi was reportedly beaten after a group of civilians backed by the regime raided his home.
He was hanged against a door, electrocuted, beaten, and forced to stand for four consecutive days. According to his father, he disappeared for five days and his clothes were stripped from his body at the Criminal Investigation Department in Bahrain.
BCHR said it believes the violations and detentions against photographers is to conceal photographs that depict the violations of the regime, adding that four Bahraini photographers are among a list that includes 178 detained journalists worldwide according to The Freedom Press Index released by Reporters without Borders.
The center called on the United Nations, the United Kingdom, the United States and all of the authority’s close allies and relevant international associations to apply pressure on to the Bahraini government in order to halt such violations. It also called on the Bahraini Authority to immediately release detained journalists and drop all charges against them and to stop targeting photographers, journalists and bloggers.
The situation of press freedom is just as severe in Somalia. A Somali radio director, Mohamed Bare, was detained and tortured for photographs posted online that depicted the Lower Shabelle region’s vice president after he was injured by a bomb.
Bare was released on Feb. 13 after being held arbitrarily for three days and tortured according to a Reporters without Borders statement released on Feb. 25.
The organization said that Bare went to the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) on Feb. 25 for interrogation, according to an interview he gave to a local media outlet after his release, which said “he named certain NISA officers as the persons who should be held responsible if he was murdered.”
Meanwhile, a Zimbabwean newspaper vendor, Fungi Dhori, was assaulted by three police officers who accused him of feeding Newsday Papers with “fictitious stories” about corruption in the police, reported the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) on Feb 26.
“The offices took turns slapping him and bashed his head with a steel rod,” said MISA, adding that they took Dhori to the Central Police station and charged him with “obstruction of justice.”
In China, a Uighur blogger and academic Ilham Tohti was detained on Jan. 15 and remains incommunicado following charges of separatism, reported the Committee to Protect Journalists on Feb. 26.
Ilham Tohti could face between 10 years to life in prison, or even a death sentence, Tohti’s lawyer told Reuters.
“The Xinjiang Public Security Bureau released a statement last month, accusing Tohti of fomenting ethnic hatred through Uighurbiz, the website he founded several years ago,” CPJ added.
CPJ clarified that Tohti, who also lectures on economics at a Beijing university, is a member of the Uighur minority, a large Muslim group in China’s northwest, and he is often critical of China’s treatment of Uighurs and expresses his concerns on his website.
“The arrest of Ilham Tohti is another reminder of China’s aggressive reaction to critical ethnic minority voices,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz.
Local and international human rights groups have expressed concern over Tohti’s welfare. Chinese citizens started an online petition calling for Tohti’s immediate release, CPJ added.