Reporters Without Borders was shocked to learn of the death on March 31 of the citizen journalist Ahmed Ismail Hussain, shot while he was filming a peaceful demonstration in the village of Salmabad, south-west of the capital, Manama.
“We strongly condemn this murder and call on the Bahraini authorities to make every effort to find those responsible and bring them to justice,” the international press freedom organization said.
“Despite the undertakings it has given to the international community, the kingdom of Bahrain is still in the grip of a bloody crackdown aimed particularly against news organizations and the visual media.”
Hussain, 22, was shot in the hip in the early hours. He was taken first to the international hospital, then to Salmaniya hospital where he died of his wounds during the night.
The interior ministry confirmed the death and said an inquiry would be opened.
The demonstration he was covering began about 11:30 pm. Witnesses said he was filming security forces using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters.
According to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, police cars were followed by two civilian vehicles whose occupants fired live ammunition at the demonstrators.
Other sources reported that the car from which the shots that killed Hussain were fired arrived at the scene after the security forces had left.
Hussain regularly filmed demonstrations, documenting abuses by police who have been cracking down ruthlessly on all forms of anti-government protest since February last year.
His death is a reminder that journalists are still at great risk in the country. Two media workers, Karim Fakhrawi, one of the founders of Bahrain’s only independent newspaper Al-Wasat and a member of its board, and the blogger Zakariya Rashid Hassan died in detention in April last year.
Bahrain, in particular Manama’s Pearl Square, was ranked among the 10 most dangerous places in the world for journalists in 2011 by Reporters Without Borders.
On 14 February this year, the first anniversary of the protest movement that has shaken the monarchy, Mazen Mahdi, a photographer with the German news agency DPA, Reuters photographer Muhammad Hamad, and Financial Times correspondent Simeon Kerr had tear gas fired at them as they covered an assault by security forces on a march by protesters towards Pearl Square, despite having vests with the word “press” on them.
Mahdi was threatened by a police officer who ordered him to delete photos of a charge by security forces or face having his camera smashed over his head. The photographer filed an official complaint. He reports that he has been assaulted by the police several times since then.