Expectations are high as Bahrainis await international probe report

November 16, 2011

One week before a high-profile international commission issues its much-anticipated report on the events that hit Bahrain, Bahrainis hope for a unique chance to have their wounds finally healed.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), formed in June, has been working on the report since mid-July and has dealt with thousands of people and accounts.

“Approximately 9,000 written complaints were received by the BICI from both citizens and foreign residents who claimed to be victims of human rights violations,” the commission, chaired by M. Cherif Bassiouni, said.

“Moreover, the BICI conducted over 5,000 personal interviews with individual complainants at the commission’s offices during which allegations of human rights violations against those individuals and their families were investigated.”

The commission also looked into the role of each ministry and government agency during the events that occurred in Bahrain in February and March 2011 and related subsequent events.

“The report will help us make a new beginning after all the drama we lived,” Tarek Hassan, an office clerk, said. “I am sure it will put the record straight, make people assume the responsibilities of their acts and therefore help heal the nation. It has been a highly dramatic situation and we really need a fresh start,” he said.

The report publication was initially set for October 30, but was postponed to November 23 to allow the commission more time to draft its findings and recommendations.

For Hoda Mohammad, an IT technician, the report will be a long-awaited denouement.
“Too many people have suffered, mainly psychologically, and this has to end,” she said.

“We hope that the report which we expect to be highly neutral will help the nation heal its wounds. We in Bahrain have always been highly tolerant and open, and the deplorable events should not thrust upon us a new way of life where exclusion, boycott and intolerance become acceptable,” she said.

However, Mohammad Sultan, an accountant, said that he was not sure the report would make the anticipated difference.

“I am really torn between two visions,” he said. “There is the appealing option that the report will clarify everything and explain what happened and how it happened.

ppropriate measures are supposed to follow to vindicate victims and punish abusers. However, there is also the claim that the report would not be neutral and would reinforce unrest and doubts,” he said.

For Ahmad Jasem, a legal affairs specialist, the content of the report is not the issue. “It will be drafted by a highly competent and neutral team and I trust them and respect their expertise,” he said. “However, I do hope that its recommendations will be fully implemented so that Bahrain can avoid a repeat of all the unfortunate events it has lived.”

Sources told Gulf News that the report is expected to be presented to King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa at a ceremony on Wednesday and that Bassiouni would hold a press conference afterwards.

The report will be made public online on the same day, but no hint or preview would be given before its scheduled release.

Bassiouni last month said that there would be no contact with the media in order “to ensure that nothing about the substantive work of the commission, in particular its findings and recommendations, be made public before the submission of the final report.”

The BICI also decided “not to respond to media allegations against either the commission or its staff as the BICI continues to execute its mandate to a high degree of professionalism.”

“The final report will be based on extensive research and investigations that will establish – in an impartial manner – the facts related to the events that occurred during February and March 2011 and related subsequent events,” the BICI said.

In August, the BICI came under heavy attack and Bassiouni was accused of being “willing to espouse the view of the political establishment whilst paying lip-service to the concept of a fair and independent enquiry.”

However, Bassiouni said that allegations that the BICI endorsed the government’s views were an insult to the commissioners and its staff and insisted that the BICI would not “allow itself to be used as a political tool for any group.”





About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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