18th Apr, 2013 –
Amnesty International adds its voice to the unfair and disproportionate reporting ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix
Why is Amnesty International choosing this moment to issue a report to remind us of events which occurred two years ago and which Bahrainis are trying to put behind them?
We all know that in the February 2011 unrest 30-40 people died, including police, expats, citizens and protesters. We know that people were tortured and abuses occurred and we know that people were detained. We also know that Bahrain’s authorities have acknowledged this and have sought to put right the wrongs, which were done at that time.
All Amnesty’s other assertions are heavily open to dispute:
From where does Amnesty get the assertion that 26 people have died over the past 18 months?
Why is Amnesty describing people who forcibly tried to impose an Islamic Republic and with a history of failed coup attempts, terrorism and activity hostile to Bahrain as “prisoners of conscience”?
Why does amnesty cite legal trials, sentencing and imprisonment of police officers as if this is a bad thing? Why does Amnesty not accept that if there is insufficient evidence against a particular officer they should be acquitted? Would Amnesty rather that anyone who comes under suspicion be locked up or hanged? Human rights, anyone?
Amnesty attacks Bahrain for detaining youth below the age of 18, without taking note of the average age of those rioters out every night throwing firebombs at police. These naïve youth are themselves being exploited by militant groups, and many are paid to stage riots, launch attacks and vandalize property – but Amnesty seems reluctant to discuss this violation of human rights.
Amnesty rightly notes the vast sums of money wasted on PR agencies – the real crime is that Bahrain has gained nothing from this and the Government’s own PR capabilities remain highly chaotic. However, sorry Amnesty but this doesn’t count as a human rights abuse.
Amnesty tells us that “The situation hasn’t really improved since the protests broke out two years ago”; failing to note that two years ago Bahrain was on the brink of civil collapse and sectarian conflict.
Amnesty is being openly dishonest in entirely failing to credit Bahrain with a series of highly significant reforms:
· Overhaul of the justice and security sectors
· Constitutional amendments for empowering elected MPs
· Returning 96% of those fired during the unrest to their jobs
· Dropping all charges against the medics (until recently this was an issue Amnesty never stopped talking about)
· Embarking on a process of National Dialogue
· Millions in compensation paid to victims of violence
· Cancelling the National Safety status and referring all trials to civilian justice
· Appointing the Crown Prince as Deputy PM to oversee executive reform
We could go on at great length about a host of other measures, but the above points are sufficient to show how dishonest Amnesty is being with the facts and the extent to which this respected organization has resorted to printing literal opposition propaganda.
Amnesty hardly mentions the fact that it has been given full access to Bahraini officials and detainees and that the leadership has acted with complete transparency. Unfortunately for Amnesty, after publishing such biased false information about Bahrain, many people would certainly be asking next time round why we should be granting Amnesty this kind of access, if they are going to merely stab us in the back once again at a time when most Bahrainis want to forget the violence and unrest and enjoy the Grand Prix.