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Security prosecutions push Bahraini tweeters to use pseudonyms

Many Bahraini tweeters resort to using fake names or pseudonyms on social media to protect themselves from
being tracked by the Bahraini regime forces and dragging them to its show courts.

They often have to hide behind a pseudonym for fear of arrests and summons by security services against
activists and tweeters in a miserable attempt to prevent free voices from addressing the rampant corruption in
the ruling Bahraini regime.

Activists have repeatedly criticized the policy of the regime’s authorities, whether economic, social or political.

These criticisms do not go beyond the framework of freedom of opinion and expression that international law
guarantees them through its various conventions, as confirmed by human rights organizations.

The pseudonyms allow critics on social media to speak frankly – albeit with caution – on various topics, including
political and social, and publish them without fears of security prosecution.

Because of the deliberate concealment of their identities, the number of cases classified as violations of media
freedoms and freedom of opinion and expression in Bahrain has decreased, according to a report published by
the Bahrain Press Association this week.

According to the report, 15 cases of violations against journalists, media professionals and online tweeters were monitored during the first half of 2021, down from 78 violations for the same period in the past year 2020.

The Bahrain Press Association asserts that this decline is not due to the rise in the level of freedoms or the
mitigation of the responsible authorities from their measures regarding criticism directed at the state and its institutions.

Rather, most activists and citizens withdrew from public discussions in their own names and explicitly, preferring
to use equivocal and cautious expressions to avoid being monitored by security authorities, according to the association.

According to the association, “Perhaps the most prominent example that reflects the oppressive atmosphere that
the country has reached is the Parliament’s passage on April 20, 2021, a decree prohibiting members of
Parliament themselves from criticizing, blaming or accusing the government.

It is a step that the association included “in the context of many other steps that have made criticizing the
government, its bodies and those in charge of it very costly, if not impossible.”

“Despite the progress made by the Bahraini government in the alternative punishment project, which has
resulted in hundreds of convicts being released from prisons under this law.

However, those convicted in cases related to freedom of opinion and expression, especially among the political
leaders of the opposition and journalists, are still excluded from this conditional release, even though some of them are in poor health.”

As for the most prominent excuses that the Cybercrime Combating Department has used to drag tweeters into
investigation and sometimes refer them to the Public Prosecution and the courts; It is the “abuse” of social media.

According to a previous report by the Bahrain Press Association, this broad accusation may include criticism of the performance of state officials or the work of ministries.

It also includes playing with national currency cards, criticizing social phenomena, or historical publishing
information that contradicts the official narrative about them.

The Bahraini authorities no longer care much about the domestic criticism directed at them at this level.

Nor to the regional and international periodic reports that place it at a lower rank in media freedoms and Internet freedom.

Bahrain ranked 168th in the world according to the World Press Freedom Rankings of Reporters Without Borders, in 2021

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