Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Authorities confiscate reprintes of Belgrave Diaries

HAQ: Movement of Liberties and Democracy- Bahrain
حق: حركة الحريات والدموقراطية- البحرين
مكتب حقوق الإنسان ..Human Rights Bureau, Email:

Authorities confiscate reprints of Belgrave Diaries
May 25, 2010

It has been reported that authorities confiscated 20 copies of translated reprints of "Belgrave Diaries", at its arrival to Bahrain from Lebanon. These memoir are collection of dailies recorded by the British Charles Belgrave, who served in the British army before taking the post of financial controller and a consular to the ruler of Bahrain in 1926 then the Chancellor of Government of Bahrain since 1933 until leaving Bahrain in 1957.

Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Mokhodour, the owner of Al-Esmah Bookshop, stated that: "The Ministry of Culture and Information (Moci) confiscated 20 copies of "Dailies of British Chancellor Charles Belgrave in Bahrain" among a book consignment imported by his establishment ". He added:"Jamad Dawood, the Director of Press and Publication in the Moci demanded the delay of passing the shipment for a week to investigate whether Belgrave Dailies are banned or not. Later, however, I received a communication from the ministry advising me of receipt of all books in the shipment except for Belgrave Diaries".

The 600 page of Arabic-translated reprints of Belgrave Dailies cover the period of his presence in Bahrain from 1926 until 1957. The chronicles are selections of his comprehensive dailies, composed of thousands of pages, covering the period of 1915-1961 . In August 2009, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) took the initiative of translating the selected dairies to Arabic and disseminating it, in series, through the web.

This is not the first time that the Moci ban books from entry to Bahrain. In the last book fair, held during 17-27 March 2010, and organized by the Moci, it was learnt that some books published by Lebanese publishers, mostly of Shia theology, were banned from being imported or displayed in the fair . Prior to the event, over two dozen Lebanese publishers, who have been used to participate in previous book fairs, were impeded from coming to Bahrain and were part of a "black list" by Moci. Some publishers were not granted visas whereas others were delayed until it was too late.

HAQ is concerned about the difficulties introduced by Moci to prevent access to books, which are not favored by the authorities, which is part of a more stringent policy to prevent access to information. Needless to say, that blocking access to information, in any form, is a blatant violation to basic human rights and those spelled by Article 19 of the UN Declaration of human rights and the same article of the ICCPR, acceded by Bahrain in September 2006. Therefore, HAQ calls for the Authorities to:

1- Put an end to censorship and clamping all means of controlling flow of information via blocking sites and blogs, banning books and publishable materials.
2- Respect vows and commitments to human rights covenants and declarations and particularly those concerned with freedom of expression and rights to information