This time the Bahrainis were not fooled by another international initiative to stop the systematic human rights violations committed by their regime since the February 14th revolution, and for decades before that. A large group of Bahraini dissidents were at the meeting of the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) revealing countless numbers of torture cases, stories of more than 1,500 detainees, and tens of killed protesters. While the meeting was taking place in Geneva, Bahrainis were mourning a man in his 50’s who died of suffocation after inhaling tear gas thrown by riot police. The Bahraini regime’s team in UNHRC attended the meeting as if it was a wedding; a large number of regime loyalists denying any violations and accusing the human rights defenders and opposition of “planning to destroy Bahrain!”
Hours before opening the discussion for countries to make comments on the Bahraini case, dissident journalist Hussain Marhoon wrote on twitter the conversation that took place between the Tunisian team and the Bahraini team of advocates and opposition. The first told the latter: “Be careful, all the Arab delegations will stand with your regime, so focus on the recommendations.” The Tunisian delegation were right, but should have added that non-Arab countries would also be siding with the Bahraini regime. Most notably, the old mentor of the Bahraini regime - the United Kingdom; the country that preaches to the world about respecting human rights, democracy, tolerance, and respecting differences!
The UK representative was doing the job of the Bahraini delegation. The UK delegation did not even try to defend Bahrain and call it reformative except by stupidly saying “Bahrain is serious about its reforms; it sent more than one minister to this meeting,” the delegation did not explain why is this a mark of seriousness when the Bahraini regime itself lives in denial and bluntly calls its opposition traitors aiming for destruction!
What we do not need the British delegation to tell us is of the old relationship between the two countries in colonial and post-colonial times. When the Bahrainis were fighting British colonialism, the ruling family was taking orders from the English. When Bahrainis were revolting in the 90’s, the British intelligence was managing torture cells in the country. When Bahrainis protested against the London Olympics hosting a ruling family member who had tortured athletes, the British played deaf. It is an old loving relationship that no values or human rights can break!
It was a pathetic play that could only make you laugh; the human rights defenders speaking of hardcore violations of human rights in Bahrain, and their foreign minister replied: “we call for dialogue every week but they do not want it.” Molotovs and burning tires on highways hurt the economy and the police force. He surely won’t mention what crimes his forces have committed in the last two years. The best response perhaps came from the Austrian delegation: “No progress has been made. The regime should stop the torture and violence. We call for transferring Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja (to Denmark).”
In his final note, the Bahraini foreign minister commented “we have no prisoners of conscience, those arrested are all in detention for felonies that I cannot mention here!” This is exactly what the regime’s logic sounds like; this is what its supporters are shamelessly standing behind.
* Published in Al-Akhbar