The Berlin and London-based European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) documents human rights violations in Saudi Arabia using a blog first created in August 2013 (and blocked in October 2013) and a website launched in September 2014 (and blocked since July 2015). Coordinating with other groups, its activists provide information and lobby governments internationally. As well as publishing articles and reports, ESOHR organizes and participates in conferences, seminars and other events, provides human rights training, and assists the victims of abuses.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) defends freedom of expression, association and assembly in the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf, understanding this region to encompass Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran and Iraq. It decided to include Syria in its mandate in 2013 on the grounds that it was vital to document human rights violations in a country whose conflict was having a major impact on its neighbours.
The GCHR is not welcomed in the UAE, where its website has been blocked since January 2015 or in Saudi Arabia, where it has been repeatedly blocked. It is believed that the reason for the blocking is the unconditional support that the GCHR has given to the human rights defenders in particular Dr. Mohammed Al-Roken, Dr. Mohammed Al-MansoriDr. Mohammed Al-Qahtani, Waleed Abu Al-Khair and Raef Badawi and other detained human rights defenders.
The GCHR speaks out internationally in defence of the region’s journalists and human rights groups. In December 2013, it joined nine other NGOs including Reporters Without Borders in asking UN special rapporteurs Frank La Rue (freedom of opinion and expression) and Juan Méndez (torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment) to investigate the cases of three journalists – Mohamed Les Hassan, Hussain Hubail and Qassim Zain Aldeen – who had been arrested and tortured in Bahrain for covering anti-government protests in 2012 and 2013.
The Centre has offices in Beirut, Copenhagen and Istanbul. Several of its staff have been arrested in Saudi Arabia and are still being held.
The Bahrain Mirror was launched on 13 May 2011, at the height of a wave of anti-government protests. Its very first editorial explained that it was created to offset the decline in media freedom in Bahrain. The site was blocked a month later.
For the past three years, its staff have been playing a game of cat and mouse with the authorities. The addresses of new mirror sites are often posted on Twitter and Facebook and are just as often blocked. Whether based inside Bahrain or abroad, its journalists all use pseudonyms for safety’s sake. Those who have been identified have had to flee abroad. Some have even been stripped of their nationality.
Despite the government’s determination to silence it, the Bahrain Mirror has established itself as one of Bahrain’s few independent news outlets. As well as its journalistic reporting, the staff have posted many reports about the human rights situation and, from their Beirut headquarters, organize workshops and discussion forums on political and civil society movements in the Gulf.