Bahrain comes clean on abuse of protesters


THE chief investigator into the Bahrain government’s crackdowns has given a blow-by-blow reckoning of torture, excessive force and fast-track justice to crush the largest Arab Spring uprising in the Gulf.

Reading out his conclusions yesterday as King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa listened, Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni said there was no evidence of Iranian links to Bahrain’s Shi’ite-led protests. Gulf leaders accuse Tehran of playing a role in the 10-month-old showdown in the kingdom.

The 500-page study, authorised by Bahrain’s Sunni rulers to ease tensions, is the most comprehensive document on security force actions during any revolt in the Arab world this year.

Mr Bassiouni’s summary cited midnight raids to “create fear”, purges from workplaces and universities, prisoner abuse including electric shocks and beatings, and destruction of Shi’ite mosques that “gave the impression of collective punishment”.

At least 35 people have been killed, including several members of the security forces.

It appeared unlikely that even the strong criticism would satisfy opposition forces, who accused the Sunni monarchy of using all methods at its disposal to avoid sharing power with the Shi’ite majority. Hours before the report was released, security forces used tear gas and stun grenades in the latest clash on the island that houses the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.

The US commended the king for appointing the commission.

Bahrain’s government promised “no immunity” for anyone suspected of abuses and said it would propose creating a permanent human rights commission

The Australian