Bahrain Maligned by Rights Body’s Aberrations

A report issued by the London-based Amnesty International in September levelled a string of allegations against Bahrain, questioning its track record on the score of human rights, especially the alleged “repression of the opposition.”

Bahrain has reacted strongly this week, having taken three months to gather evidence to debunk the flawed report which is not only based on unfounded assertions by “ambiguous sources” but even those who prepared it never bothered to contact the relevant Bahraini authorities to verify the claims or to take any sort of comment.

In other words Amnesty chose to play the roles of the accuser, the judge and the jury all rolled into one. This makes a tiny state like Bahrain a convenient whipping boy.

Amnesty and the world need to understand that because it is tiny and has a majority Shia population, Bahrain has suffered for a long time on account of Iranian machinations. Especially in the wake of the 2011 troubles following the so-called Arab Spring, Iran is known to have spared no effort to overtly and covertly create chaos, disturbances, blasts, attacks on police using its sleeper cells and local Shia political societies [notably the leading one of them all, Al Wefaq headed by Al Salman] and smuggle arms and funding. There was even an attempt once to menacingly approach the royal palace.

Add to this the repeated calls by the Shia spiritual leader in Bahrain Issa Qasim to “crush the police” and Ali Salman’s now-exposed attempts back in 2011 to bring about a regime change with the help of the then Qatari prime minister.

If, after all this, a small state decides to take steps to protect its sovereignty how could these be called human rights infringements?

On the contrary, Bahrain’s king went so far as to realise that in the 2011 troubles the innocents and the gullible on both sides had suffered. He therefore appointed – for the first time in history – an independent international inquiry commission, put its reports fixing responsibility on both the government side and the opposition elements on an official website for all to see, implemented the report’s recommendations in full, compensated everyone without discrimination, gave back jobs and even tried security personnel on specific public complaints.

Bahrain also paid $8.3 million in compensation to the victims of human rights violations and disbursed $882,788 in compensation to 49 people who were injured. Before and after 2011, for a number of years, anti-government demonstrations were allowed routinely [something no other Middle East country had ever done] until it was realized that every time the promised peace rally would degenerate into Molotov attacks on police and other infractions.

Aren’t individuals deported by the US or the UK for anti-national or sectarian activities? Aren’t political bodies shut down in the West when they cross the redline drawn by the government [the Communist Party in the US, and outfits in Italy, Germany and Spain]. Extremism and terrorism cannot be allowed to thrive in any country. We see that in a country with a population of barely 1.2 million, certain opposition societies incite terrorism and refuse to stay clear of sectarian agendas. The opposition Press mouthpieces repeatedly promote their ideologies – and religious groups become involved in the political scene. They must be warned and ultimately through legal procedures dissolved. And this is what Bahrain too did.

That brings us to the question whether Amnesty carries out any due diligence at all or is in the business of merely parroting the accusations levelled by disgruntled elements living abroad because that would make good ‘copy’ for the Press. If that is not the case then how come in Amnesty’s dictionary the protesters who are killed are invariably called “victims” while the policemen hit by Molotovs or killed in blasts are merely termed “deaths?” And if someone is convicted in a criminal case what has that to do with human rights?

Defies logic.

Brij Sharma is an Indian journalist and editor based in Bahrain. Brij tells us the interesting stories we don’t usually hear from the middle east country.