#Human Rights
Ministry of Information

On 14 January 2009, local newspapers disclosed a ministerial order by the new minister of culture and information addressed to all telecommunications companies and Internet service providers, calling on them to prevent access to websites that were banned by the ministry.

This is the first resolution issued by the minister this year and the first administrative resolution to give sharp and clear instructions to telecommunications companies and Internet service providers to prevent "all the customary ways to access blocked sites," whether through Internet addresses or through the use of alternative servers (proxies) or any other way.

The MOI ordered ISP’s to censor “inappropriate” content on the Internet, compulsorily, the Bahraini people will not be given a choice to view this material; it will simply become inaccessible by all Bahraini’s. These restrictions will put Bahrain on the same level as countries such as China, Cuba, Iran and North Korea and Saudi.

The issue is with “inappropriate” as a definition, the websites that are blocked at the moment include Opposition websites, Human rights, Public forums, personal blog journals, some google services, Pornographic material and Gambling. Many websites that promote sectarian hatred on the other hand are still accessible from any computer on the island.

Inappropriate content will be defined and redefined by the government from time to time as they see fit depending on their Personal views and political stance. This is unacceptable and an intolerable restriction on our freedom of speech (which is the freedom to speak freely without censorship or limitation) and our freedom of information.

The actions of the Bahraini authorities violate freedom of expression as stipulated in Article 19 of the ICCPR signed by Bahrain on 20 September 2006.

If this trend continues, the freedom of expression in Bahrain will take another blow and dwarf even more We should at least retain our right to choose.

People who do wish to have unrestricted access to the Internet should be able to opt for this. Government should not have unfettered control over our freedom of speech, expression and freedom of information.

We, the undersigned, strongly oppose the Bahraini government’s censorship Internet content.

We deserve the choice to have uncensored access.

Internet censorship should not be imposed on us.

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The Stop internet censorship in Bahrain petition to Ministry of Information was written by Eyad Ebrahim and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.