BCHR Participation in Event organised by the Rafto Foundation in Geneva in May 2024 for the Rafto Prize laureates.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)’s Nedal Al Salman, was one of the human rights defenders who attended a conference organized by the Rafto Foundation in Geneva in May 2024 for the Rafto Prize laureates.

The Rafto laureate conference serves as a vital forum where remarkable human rights defenders from across the globe can exchange insights, strategies and solidarity, delving into the intricacies of safeguarding human rights amidst adversity.

The  Rafto Prize was awarded to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) in 2013 for their long and courageous fight for fundamental human rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of association in Bahrain.

By awarding the Rafto Prize to BCHR, the Rafto Foundation turns the spotlight on the systematic violations of human rights in a region where abuse is too often met with silence from western governments.

The 2013 Rafto Prize recognises an organisation that has consciously worked for the rights of Bahraini citizens and the many migrant workers in the country. BCHR has promoted non-violent protests against the current government and used digital media to spread its message in a very effective manner.

Nedal Al Salman, participated in a discussion where she gave a speech addressing the restrictions on online space in Bahrain which is closely monitored and censored by the government. Social media platforms, often used as virtual gathering places, are subjected to stringent regulations, leading to the arrest and prosecution of individuals expressing dissenting views online.

She further explained:”This crackdown not only stifles free speech but also inhibits Bahrainis from freely exchanging ideas and organizing peaceful protests online.

Moreover, even physical gatherings face harsh repression. The 2011 pro-democracy protests were met with excessive force by security forces, including tear gas and live ammunition. Peaceful protesters were arrested, detained, and subjected to torture and ill-treatment simply for exercising their right to assemble peacefully.

This erosion of freedom of assembly in Bahrain not only violates the basic human rights of its citizens but also undermines the country’s democratic principles and hinders progress and development. In a society where individuals fear voicing their opinions and peacefully assembling, true prosperity cannot be achieved.

It is imperative that the Bahraini government respects and upholds the right to freedom of assembly, both online and offline. They must cease the harassment, intimidation, and violence against peaceful protesters and foster an environment conducive to open and inclusive dialogue. Only then can Bahrain progress towards a more just and democratic society where all voices are heard and respected.”