Foreign AffairsWritten evidence from LuaLua TV

I am writing to you as the Director of LuaLuaTV to inform you of the difficulties we have faced as a result of a sustained attempt to stop us from broadcasting.

LuaLuaTV began its test launch in July 2011 as Bahrain’s first and only independent TV station. We broadcast daily news bulletins, political talk shows and light entertainment. Our aim is to promote democracy, justice, peace and equality in Bahrain.

After just four hours of broadcast we had our satellite signal jammed. Post investigation it became clear that the source of this jamming was the Kingdom of Bahrain. (Please find attached Eutelsat response). Although it is not possible to know for certain that the Government of Bahrain is carrying out this interference, it is of course very likely.

Such an operation costs a huge amount of money and expertise and therefore it seems impossible that there was no official involvement in this process.

As a means of continuing to broadcast, LualuaTV started a partnership with the online streaming service, Livestation. This allowed us to broadcast online with huge viewing figures coming in the first couple of weeks.

But once again individuals in Bahrain targeted this. After two very successful weeks, we received reports that the website that carries our live stream was being blocked in Bahrain (Please find attached evidence of the Blockage for Website and Mobile Applications). As before it cannot be confirmed that the Authorities are involved but Bahrain is well versed in attacking press freedom.

A few months ago the press freedom group, Reporters without Borders, referred to the King of Bahrain as a ‘press freedom predator’ in reference to the illegal detention of journalists, blocking of critical websites and other suspect practices.

In reality, LuaLuaTV has attempted to avoid any direct confrontation with the Bahraini Authorities. We have invited Government officials to take part in debates, always addressed the Royal Family in a respectful manner and tried to keep criticism at a minimum.

Therefore, it is all the more frustrating that we are finding that our hard work is being wasted, as at every turn we are being stopped from broadcasting. Freedom of the media and press are an integral part of any democratic society and thus Bahrain must respect independent media if it is truly to flourish.

According to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states ‘Everyone has the right freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, received an impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’. Also Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of which Bahrain is a signatory to state that ‘Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either or ally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice’.

We believe Bahrain must either stop its attacks on LuaLuaTV or if it is not involved, do everything it can to find and halt those responsible. For too long the people have had to put up with state media, telling only the side of the story that the Authorities want to hear. LuaLuaTV is giving Bahrain the opportunity to embrace free media and therefore democracy too. So far, Bahrain has failed in this respect.

18 November 2012

Prepared 21st November 2013