New York, April 4, 2012–A Bahraini videographer died Saturday morning after being shot while filming a protest outside the capital, Manama, according to local journalists and news reports.
Ahmed Ismail Hassan, a videographer who regularly filmed pro-reform protests in Bahrain, was filming a demonstration in Salmabad, a village southwest of Manama, Adel Marzooq, president of the London-based Bahrain Press Association, told CPJ, citing Bahraini colleagues. After the protest was dispersed by riot police with tear gas and rubber bullets, unidentified assailants in a Toyota Land Cruiser began shooting live ammunition at the protesters, news reports said. Hassan was shot in the upper right thigh and died later that morning in Salmaniya Hospital from complications associated with his wound, news reports said.
“This shooting underscores the terrible risks journalists face in recording the social and political unrest in Bahrain,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “Bahraini authorities must immediately investigate this death in a credible and timely manner.”
Hassan, who had been filming protests in Salmabad since the country’s uprising began in February 2011, was well-known among journalists for documenting unrest, Marzooq told CPJ. The videographer shot thousands of videos showing clashes between security forces and protesters and arrests, which he uploaded to YouTube and which were often used by several regional media outlets, Marzooq said. Local journalists also told CPJ that Hassan’s work provided critical documentation in a restricted area.
The Bahraini Ministry of Interior said in a statement that the preliminary police investigation found that the “gunman was driving a civilian vehicle.”
In their effort to impose a media blackout of the uprising, Bahrain authorities have obstructed and harassed foreign journalists, making video footage from citizen journalists like Hassan vital in informing media coverage of the unrest, CPJ research found. Two other journalists have been killed in Bahrain since the uprising began last year, CPJ research shows.