Lamees Dhaif

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Lamees Dhaif (Arabic: لميس ضيف‎; born 26 June 1978) is a Bahraini journalist, active in the Bahraini resistance campaign. As early as 2009 she was in trouble, being summonsed to the Public Prosecutor's office after she had accused some judges of corruption.[1] [2] She has supported the Bahraini uprising that began as part of the Arab Spring. Her work has made her the target of government crackdowns on journalists.[3]

She is renowned for political and social criticism, including satirical articles. She has written in various newspapers in the Persian Gulf region, and she has a column in Alyaum,[4] one of the most important newspapers in Saudi Arabia.

Dhaif became famous when she presented a program on Al-Rai,[5] a private Kuwaiti television channel which talked about taboo issues such as poverty, sadism, prostitution, corruption, and inequality. It also included social issues such as enslavement of foreign labor and problems faced by local women who are married to foreigners.

Dhaif is popular among youth and intellectuals, but her articles have always aroused controversy. A legal case was filed against her after she harshly criticized corrupt judges, however, the case was suspended because of pressure from both local and international organizations.

Dhaif is also a human rights activist and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Bahraini Journalists Association[6] for three consecutive rounds. However, she resigned from the Association in protest at political reports issued by members from the Association. She faces fierce criticism, between now and then, because of her opposition to corruption.

She was chosen as an "agent of change" by CNN as one of 8 women in the Arab Spring who had supported the revolution in their country[7] Because she has supported the revolution in Bahrain, she was threatened in so many ways. Various international entities like Freedom House have addressed the government to protect her.[8][9] The Bahrain Press Association has also included Dhaif in their First Report on Press and Journalism in Bahrain from 1 January to 15 July 2011. She was among the journalists who were targeted by the government.[10]

International human rights organisations that participated in the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Bahrain in Geneva in May 2012 were alarmed at threats made against Bahraini civil society members, including Lamees Dhaif, who were present. During the UPR Working Group Session for the adoption of the report on Bahrain on 25 May 2012, UN Human Rights Council President Laura Dupuy Lasserre expressed concern about “a media campaign which is taking place in [Bahrain], identifying and threatening representatives of civil society who came to Geneva to participate in this review.” She emphasised that governments have the obligation to protect the rights of their people and called for Bahrain’s government to commit to that.[11]

Dhaif had done lots of videoed reports and commentaries on the situatiuon in Bahrain.[12][13]

She has presented and directed a program on Lualua television. It mainly portrayed what took place in her country in a sarcastic way.[14]

In addition to her role in the media, Lamees Dhaif has also worked in collaboration with national and international figures on humanitarian issues for the well being of the Bahraini people. She is now the Chairman of Hope Defenders, a Geneva-based Organization supporting freedom of expression & democratic transformation in the Arab world. (Twitter: @Hopedefenders)

She has also worked on various charity campaigns to help needy families and unfortunate students who did not receive scholarships because of they belonged to a certain sect. Other campaigns also targeted detainees' and martyrs' families. She is well known in her country for embracing and helping the needy.

A few months after start of the revolution, Dhaif moved out of the country. Currently, she is living in London where she received political asylum. Although living in exile, Dhaif continues to use the tools of social media (Twitter & Facebook) in addition to YouTube to report on what is taking place in her country.

She continues to represent her country in international conferences and workshops including two sessions in the United Nations.[15]

Honours[edit]

Lamees Dhaif has won several awards including: Best Investigative Report in 2004, the Excellence Award in Journalism in 2008 (in the Second Regional Conference on Women), and was honored as best writer by the Women's Union in the International Women's Day in 2009. She was also awarded the Freedom of Speech Award from the Tully Center in New York in October 2012.[16][17] Dhaif was voted among the most popular women on Twitter in the Arab World according to the magazine "Arageek"[18][19]

References[edit]

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