Stop the persecution of Bahraini artists and intellectuals!

Posted on November 29, 2011 | No Comments

fD joins Trans Europe Halles, Freemuse and the International Coalition of Arts, Human Rights and Social Justice in denouncing the continued persecution of Bahraini artists and intellectuals. Since the popular uprisings began this past spring, several hundred culture workers have faced threats, harassment, loss of job, torture and imprisonment.

Several weeks ago we submitted a letter in support of Bahraini culture workers to the Ministry of Culture, to which we have received no response. In our letter, we expressed concern “that some artists and intellectuals in Bahrain may be in danger of losing their capacity to foster healthy and productive international exchange between Bahrain and other countries, due to recent infringement of human and cultural rights in Bahrain.” We further admonished that in light of Manama being named 2012 Arab Capital of Culture, continued persecution of artists and intellectuals would garner significant, negative international attention.

According to Ahmed Ali Al Ghanem, former Head of Music & Folklore at the Ministry of Culture and the Director of the Bahrain Orchestra, since the government crackdown began on February 14, nearly 2800 people have been targeted by the government and removed from their positions, himself included. Many of those unfairly dismissed have families and no means of supporting them. Further, despite an order from the King to reverse these dismissals, no action has been taken.

In recent years, Bahrain has experienced severe cultural conflicts between modernists and traditionalists. The tiny, but rich kingdom has invited several international artists to perform in the country, but several initiatives have emerged advocating a cultural boycott against artistic visits to the country, when they are hosted by the brutal regime. In response, a group of Bahraini artists and intellectuals ray ban outlet published an open letter to UNESCO Artist for Peace Missa Johnouchi from Japan who performed at the 20th Bahrain International Music Festival on October 15.

View the letter at

If you’d like to support Bahraini artists and intellectuals, you can send a letter to the General Secretary of the League of Arab States, Dr. Nabil Al Araby urging that Manama have its 2012 Arab Capital of Culture title revoked if the persecution of artists and intellectuals does not stop.

For up-to-date information on the situation in Bahrain visit:

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