Journal of International Affairs: Can you describe the circumstances under which you were detained?
Al Oraibi: I became a photographer ten years ago. Since the protests started in 2010 and 2011, it has become very important for me to show the true picture of Bahrain to the world: what is actually happening between the regime and the people, without any filter. Since the revolution in 2011, the regime has been￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ ￼￼attacking anyone using social media to stop them from showing other countries what was happening here. They took us to jail just to prevent us from publishing our photographs.
The conditions were very bad in jail. They did not treat us like human beings who have rights, and they tortured us regularly, especially at the beginning of the sentence, to tell us we were doing something wrong. But this torture was only part of what they wanted to do to us.
Journal: How has the response of the Bahraini government changed since the protests began?
Al Oraibi: As I remember, the media was attacked even before this revolution; even in the late 1990s, there were similar kinds of attacks. But, at that time, there was a very small amount of media. Right now, because of the revolution and social media, there are many more outlets. The media has become very important to the people, to show the Bahrainis that the protests will continue until the people get their rights. The people who are protesting do not fear the government.
Crackdowns on the media are still happening. The attitude has not changed at all; the regime has only increased its attacks on journalists. There are many people working in the media who are in jail and have been sentenced for long periods for charges related to their media work.
Journal: How are photographers getting their work out in such a restricted climate?
Al Oraibi: The difficulties are still there because many of the people who are shooting photos do not work for agencies that help them publish their stories in traditional media. We work primarily on social media right now, since it is the largest place that people follow.
Social media works as the major medium to show the world what is happening in the country, since it moves very fast and people can post and follow the news in real time. There are many trusted accounts on social media websites that publish news for the people. But the attitude of the government has only become stricter toward social media, and many people have been charged with publishing stories about Bahrain that are wrong.