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Bahrain King Praises Progress As Beatings, Torture Continue

Bahrain King Praises Progress As Beatings, Torture Continue

King Hamed ibn Isa Khalifa of Bahrain offered praise to his government for making “significant progress” towards instituting reforms called for by an international commission, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), in a report detailing numerous human rights abuses including beatings and electric shocks.

After the BICI report was issued four months ago, the king created his own National Commission. According to state media, the National Commission has found that police have undergone retraining, video equipment is “being installed in interrogation cells” and riot police bases and the government has dropped charges against hundreds of those arrested in anti-government, pro-democratic protests that began in February 2011. The National Security Agency, which had been behind some of the worst detention practices, had been stripped of its power to make arrests in December and a number of cases that were to be tried in military tribunals have now been sent to civilian courts.

Activists Describe Ongoing Abuses and Torture

Opposition activists immediately countered that beatings and other brutalities, torture and imprisonment of political prisoners has continued. The National Commission’s report, says Bahrain Watch, is “self-congratulatory.” Indeed, no “high-level government official or security officer has yet been held accountable for any of the ongoing human rights violations,” founding member Bill Marczak said. All of the National Commission’s members were drawn from the Shura Council, the upper house of the Bahraini parliament whose members are all appointed by the king, notes Al Jazeera. Only 10 percent of the reforms called for by the BICI have been implemented, says Al Wefaq, the largest opposition political society in Bahrain; those reforms that have been enacted do little to address the serious human rights abuses that are ongoing in Bahrain.

The Los Angeles Times notes that the United Nations human rights office said that it is still “troubled” about reports from “reliable sources” concerning protesters dying from inhaling teargas. Said Boumedouha, a researcher at Amnesty International, emphasizes that, for all the government claims that it is investigating the abuses, it still lacks “accountability.” Indeed, the authorities seem to think that they can keep things just as they are without seriously addressing the protesters’ demands.

In February, Nabeel Rajab, the director of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was beaten so badly that he had to be hospitalized. Rajab had been marching with his wife and children to Pearl Square, the symbolic epicenter of the Bahraini protesters that was demolished by authorities in March.

Justice minister Khaled bin Ali Al Khalifa has claimed that “if there is a person who was directly responsible for torture, then he is being investigated.” But one has only to read the accounts of activists (many of whom are Shi’ite Muslims while Bahrain’s monarchy is Sunni) to question the validity of statements from Bahraini authorities.

Activist Al-Khawaja on Hunger Strike

Long-time rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja has been on a hunger strike for other a month in protest of his imprisonment and torture at the country’s notorious Jaw prison. Al-Khawaja was sentenced to life in prison on charges of terrorism and planning to overthrow the government. His daughter, Zainab Al-Khawaja, has steadfastly reported about the continuing protests in Bahrain and the government’s continued suppression of these as well as her own activism which has so far led to her being arrested twice.


Related Care2 Coverage

A Tense Bahrain Awaits Anniversary of Uprising (Video)

US Wants Investigation: Bahraini Activist Beaten, Hospitalized

Bahrain Activist Arrested, Dragged to Police Van (Video)


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Photo of Bahrain's king by Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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4:00AM PDT on Mar 26, 2012

Exactly what I was going to say Antonia - what progress indeed? People like these take 2 steps forward and 3 steps back...........they are mentally grounded in the STONE AGES.

10:25PM PDT on Mar 25, 2012

The American GOVT puppet dictator he his serving his Master all his crimes are over looked he has given bases to American forces and ready to kill any body to save guard his Master's interest

5:17AM PDT on Mar 25, 2012

Thanks for the article.

2:52PM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

HEY, SUNNI still wants to wipe out non-sunni by beating up, hanging them without justice, etc. It is time for Ignorant,Stupid, Sick minded Sunni Dictator / King to go.

4:27AM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

There are now over two hundred sovereign nations on this planet...

Out of those, far less than half can be considered as true democracies..

3:52AM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

IT needs to be remembered that many of these Middle Eastern, and also a few African and Asian nations, are still not democracies ~ but are often still being run under various old-fashioned feudal, monarchist, dictatorial, theocratic, militarist, tribal, poligarchic and/or oligarchic systems ~ or shifting combinations thereof...

Something a lot of governments, trade bodies and media outlets are often all too willing to overlook or bypass or ignore, if a particular country just happens to be a major supplier of Oil or certain minerals, or is willing to provide a military base in a critical or sensitive location..

2:04AM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

Another dictator to be ousted...hopefully

11:15AM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

NOn ci sono parole.

7:37AM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

Yet another leader who lives in The Stone Age. Why Why Why must this go on, I often wonder?

6:49AM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

Oh sure, always arrest those who oppose abuse. It happens here too!

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