13th Nov, 2013 –
The so-called “Bahrain Centre for Human Rights” has issued “Wanted” posters for dozens of Bahraini individuals, making unsubstantiated allegations about them and publishing their personal details and photos.
By doing this, the BCHR are stirring up a very dangerous situation within Bahraini society where people can be identified without evidence as being complicit in torture or human rights abuses and therefore singled out for attacks or harassment.
In the age of the Internet we have seen such a tactic used on numerous occasions round the world, often with tragic consequences. It is all too easy to identify someone as a child-abuser, a thief or even just a person of loose morals.
The result is that the individual can be singled out for violent attack by vigilante thugs who don’t necessarily know or care whether the allegations are true. Such a whispering campaign through the Internet can destroy a person’s reputation in minutes.
There are numerous recent examples where people have committed suicide after being targeted by such a vicious campaign; for example women whose former boyfriends publish incriminating photos or false information; or people who have been beaten to death after being falsely accused of rape by an anonymous Internet-user.
In the tense sectarian climate of Bahrain, such accusations act as a lightning rod for focusing hatred against particular individuals.
In cases where the BCHR believes it is in possession of legitimate evidence, this should be passed on to the independent Ombudsman’s office or some official body where the information can be investigated and action can be taken.
In a few of the cases, the names on the Wanted posters are of individuals who were investigated and sufficient information did not exist for them to be found guilty; so on what basis does the BCHR make highly libelous allegations against these private individuals?
In other instances the allegations are well known and these are people who have been falsely accused based on personal grudges; for example a female police officer on video slapping a well-known figure associated with the BCHR. Another one of the accused is a Shia police officer who has attracted a lot of hatred because of being from the same sect as most protesters.
Suffice to say that the evidence cited on many of these posters ranges from moderate, to weak, to non-existent. However, members of the public who see these posters online are in no position to judge the guilty from the innocent and angry vigilantes who desire to stage revenge attacks against those perceived to have committed abuses cannot know whether a named Interior Ministry official ever did anything wrong.
Even in the case where a named person may be guilty of some kind of abuses, we don’t want Bahrain to become a country where citizens seek vengeance through violent attacks and where mobs are incited to violence against particular individuals. The question that arises is what kind of justice is the BCHR calling for and who will be implementing the justice being called for?
Our justice system isn’t perfect, but handling these allegations through the courts and independent investigations is greatly better than putting up “Wanted” posters and waiting for masked gangsters to go out and exact their own idea of justice.
However, the BCHR is not a human rights organisation, they are a political movement and a core part of the Bahraini opposition with their roots in extremist groups like the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain, the Islamic Action Society and the Bahrain Freedom Movement.
The BCHR’s dangerous actions to provoke hatred and violence against particular individuals should be universally condemned. An organization which seeks to create an environment of accusations, social divisions and mistrust, ruined reputations and violence is a disgrace to the “human rights” tag which it uses to cover up its true aims and methods.