Current Weather
The Spy FM

Report: Bahrain Used Excessive Force On Protesters

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
November 23, 2011

In the Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, a special commission accused the government of using excessive force against protesters during an anti-government uprising earlier this year.

The report released Wednesday was unusual in that it was requested by the government itself. But questions remain over what the government will do with the findings.

The commission that issued the report was a rare thing in the Arab world. At a gilded palace with chandeliers and red carpets, a panel of international jurists sat in judgment of a king.

Using words like torture, mistreatment and threatened rape, the head of the commission said the kinds of things that are rarely said out loud — especially in the conservative, oil-rich Gulf.

The commission head, Cherif Bassiouni, listed abuses he says were committed against protesters who were detained: They were blindfolded, forced to stand for long periods of time, whipped, beaten, subjected to electric shock, deprived of sleep, exposed to high temperatures and insults.

These acts, Bassiouni said, amounted to torture.

The violence began in February, when tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Bahrain. The government responded with a crackdown. More than 30 people died, hundreds were detained, and thousands were fired from their jobs.

As he delivered his report Wednesday, Bassiouni said despite claims by Bahrain’s government and its supporters, there was no evidence that a foreign country was behind the protests.

“The proofs presented, submitted to the commission did not show that there was a clear relationship between the events that took place in Bahrain and the role of the state of Iran,” he said.

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was much less apologetic about what people in Bahrain call “the events.” Rather than acknowledging specific abuses in the report, he promised to set up committees and enact new laws.

Opposition leaders in Bahrain say they’re encouraged that someone has finally detailed abuses they say went on for months. Investigators say they heard some 9,000 complaints.

But opposition leaders say the report should have gone further — to identify those responsible for the abuse. Not naming names, they say, will only encourage security forces to behave badly.

That theory was tested Wednesday in a poor village that’s been known to hold regular protests against the government. A half-hour’s drive from the skyscrapers of the capital, people there live in houses made of plywood, corrugated steel, with concrete floors.

Villagers say a man died early Wednesday morning when police rammed his car. The government says it was just an accident.

Either way, the women of the village came to the house of the man who died, says one woman, who didn’t want to give her name.

“All the [women were] inside — inside this room. And they closed the door — they come walking, the police, they close the door, and they put the tear gas inside,” she says.

Once people heard the women were getting gassed, about 20 or 30 protesters hit the streets, calling for the fall of the regime. Police in riot gear responded with tear gas.

An NPR reporter was among a group of people that ran inside a house to escape the tear gas.

The riot police surrounded the house, pounded on the door, and then fired tear gas canisters at such close range that they ripped holes into the walls of the house.

The standoff lasted an hour. The protesters and the dead man’s relatives were holed up in the house, cowering in dark rooms and passing out vinegar to sooth the sting of the gas.

Eventually, the police fell back, giving the group a chance to leave.

They wouldn’t even let us cry for the dead, one woman said. All we wanted to do was come here and cry. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

2PM to 3PM PRI's The World

PRI's The World

Get a fresh perspective of people, events and trends that shape our world. Host Lisa Mullins covers a wide range of topics, including science, business, technology, sports, art and music.

Listen Live Now!

3PM to 6PM All Things Considered

All Things Considered

For two hours every weekday, All Things Considered hosts Robert Siegel, Michele Norris and Melissa Block present the program's trademark mix of news, interviews, commentaries, reviews, and offbeat features.

View the program guide!

6PM to 6:30PM Marketplace

Marketplace

Hosted by Kai Ryssdal, award-winning Marketplace is public radio's daily magazine of business and economics.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center