Bahrain Outrage Over Rights Misinformation Justified

The new chief of Bahrain’s human rights watchdog is justifiably upset. Ever since the troubles in Bahrain which turned into a conflagration in 2011 on the back of the so-called Arab Spring, only to die down swiftly once its Iranian backers were exposed, Bahrain has been suffering at the hands of the human rights bodies that focus on the Middle East.

Saeed Al Faihani, Chairman of the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR), said in a report published in the local daily GDN, that politically-motivated NGOs tend to hijack issues and churn out unreal statistics. They do this to prepare reports that are taken at face value by some organisations like the Beirut-based Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

In the process, all the good work done to provide justice, succour and support to the affected and the aggrieved under the terms of the 2011 report prepared by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) is ignored, overlooked, underrated or understated. This misinformation is pushed by anti-Bahrain lobbies which seem to have the ear of the United Nations.

For example Mr Faihani referred to the influence of Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, which supported anti-government factions in Bahrain, as being a factor in shaping UN reports coming out of Beirut.

Recently, Bahrain pointed out that a report on the human rights situation in Bahrain, issued by the UN earlier this year, had omitted information about the reforms carried out by the government since 2011. These were the reforms advised by the BICI. The biased UN report remained silent about the rise in violent extremism and terrorist attacks perpetrated with the use of Molotov cocktails and other lethal weapons and missiles. The UN was compelled to issue an amended version of the report, but issued no apologies. Even so, the UN amending their biased report was a rare if not unprecedented occurrence.

For instance the NIHR had registered no less than a thousand complaints since 2013 relating to a range of complaints and issues brought to its notice by the people. The complaints included mistreatment, court verdicts, prison visits, and issues faced by expatriates among others. In fact the complaints can be filed online or via the phone. But according to Faihani, the vested interests and anti-Bahrain / pro-Iran lobbies tend to misrepresent issues to make a case against Bahrain and show it in a negative light.

Part of the reason is that the OHCHR office is based in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. This is where Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran to the hilt, has a big sway and is able to influence lobbies.

Faihani rightfully wants non-partisan officials appointed in the UN rights office. The need also is for the UN office to be shifted out of Beirut to keep it beyond the vicious influence of Hezbollah and like-minded outfits. It should be shifted to the comparatively peaceful region occupied by the GCC countries.

Why the United Nations would persist in keeping a human rights office close to the influence of Hezbollah is anybody’s guess.

National Institution for Human Rights.
Bahrain National Institution for Human Rights

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.