State-run Bahrain TV Prosecutes Soccer Players and other Regime Opponents

Bahrain national soccer team player and winner of the 2004 Golden Boot, Ala’a Hubail, was grilled on Bahraini state television in what has become a journalists-turned-prosecutor talk show that has become the public arraignment of prominent opponents of the country’s royal family, according to Tahiyya Lulu in a commentary in The Guardian.

Hubail as well as his brother and fellow national soccer team Mohammed were arrested a day after April 4 broadcast in which he was interrogated about and humiliated for his participation in anti-government protests that were brutally repressed. Hubail is reported to have worked as a medic during the demonstrations. The two brothers are among more than 100 sportsmen and sports officials who have been suspended and banned from playing internationally because they allegedly supported the protests.

The editor of Al-Wasat, Bahrain’s only independent newspaper was prosecuted on television two days before Hubail. The anchor of the program tabled a file that supposedly documented Al-Wasat’s fabrication of news. Al-Wasat proprietor Mansoor al-Jamri was charged immediately after the broadcast with engaging in "unprofessional and unethical practices".

Two weeks later, it was the turn of Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, who is also chairperson of a health rights NGO, CaramAsia, and deputy secretary general of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). Professing to bear witness against “whoever conspires against the country," the broadcast showed what appeared to be a policeman being run over by a four-wheel drive vehicle, footage of a smashed car, and young boys throwing stones before featuring two government officials as Rajab’s accusers.

Rajab was initially detained three weeks before the broadcast and beaten by masked and armed national security personnel before being released on March 20. A military prosecutor accused him six days before the broadcast of publishing a "fabricated image" of Ali Isa Saqer who died in police custody on April 9, his body showing signs of severe beating. Unknown persons fired tear gas into his house two days after he appeared on the state-run television program.


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