A human rights organization called on the government of Bahrain to end its monopoly over the media, including television and radio, enact a media law in line with the human rights bill, and respect the principles of freedom of opinion expression.
The Peace Organization for Democracy and Human Rights stressed in a press release on the International Day of Radio’s occasion, the necessity of ensuring the partnership of all citizens, including the opposition, in the right to establish media, including radio.
And it stressed the need to ensure that the restrictions on journalists are avoided, to ensure impartiality and not to use the radio to defame those who oppose power.
UNESCO adopted February 13 as World Radio Day. The first radio station was established in Bahrain in November 1940, and the first radio station in the English language was established later in 1977.
All radio stations in Bahrain are state-owned and run by the government-affiliated Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation.
Salam Organization reported that since then, neither the former Ministry of Information nor the Ministry of Information Affairs currently granted any license to any independent radio channel to broadcast from inside Bahrain.
It added that the state remained monopolized by radio and television media, and the programs were directed and according to the government’s vision, and no opposition voice was added.
According to Salam Organization, due to the lack of independence of the media in Bahrain, the radio was used blatantly to incite hatred, violence, and intolerance of opponents in 2011 and the events that followed.
It emphasized that this contradicts criminal liability according to Article 69 of the Bahraini Press Law, which imposed a penalty against anyone who publishes incitement against a group of people, or contempt for it.
Also, both the Public Prosecution and the Bahraini judiciary did not move a resident. They did not investigate the Minister of Information or any official in the Ministry of Information Affairs for their violation of articles of the law.
The programs are still not neutral and continue to glorify the authority’s policies and the glorification of officials from the ruling family. There are no materials in the radio programs that talk about the authority’s violations or suppression of the opposition or its policies hostile to freedom of opinion and expression.
The human rights organization said that it is regrettable that there is no legislation in Bahrain that regulates broadcast media.
It indicated that the only existing law regulates press affairs in general, and it is Law No. (47) of 2002 regarding the regulation of the press, printing and publishing. It was issued by royal decree without the approval of the Legislative Council!
Salam Organization noted that the Bahraini Press Law contains (96) articles, but none of these articles authorizes or regulates permits to establish a radio outside the state’s official apparatus.
The Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society previously submitted a request to the head of the Information Affairs Authority in 2012 to obtain a license to launch a satellite channel, including radio. Still, the government’s Ministry of Information Affairs ignored the request and did not provide any response.
The Peace Organization for Democracy and Human Rights stressed that using this occasion to remind the violations of power in Bahrain in its revenge against all citizens, including athletes and those who raised their voices during the Arab Spring in 2011.
However, the Bahraini authorities used excessive force and allowed foreign armed forces under the name of the Peninsula Shield Forces to participate in the suppression of the protesters, including the sports community, after the participation of a number of athletes in a peaceful march in February 2011 that supported the demands of the Bahraini people.
After the Bahraini army and armed forces affiliated with the security services, the march on February 17, 2011, killed four citizens and wounded dozens.
The targeting of athletes began in April 2011, when the authorities used television, radio and the press to defame the athletes, describe them as traitors, charge them with insulting the king and his family and accuse them of calling for the overthrow of the regime.
This media campaign was followed by a campaign of arrests and torture of dozens of athletes, including players in the Bahraini soccer team at the time.