Leave Bassiouni Alone!

16 Aug, '11

Twitter was a twitter last night with “news” of an all out war on Bassioni’s commission and his resignation after him and members of his commission were verbally and physically attacked by a mob. The ex-minister of Information, Nabeel Al-Hamar posted the following:

A group of anarchists assaulted the headquarters of the fact finding commission, where they attacked the building and stuck posters against the Committee’s work. [source]

Of course the usual posse of sycophants propagated and amplified the events. They’ve demonstrated once again that verification of the news is a secondary issue to latching onto even imaginary things which strengthens their myopic beliefs.

To know what actually happened one does not have to go further than the credible press and the Commission itself which issued a press release to explain what transpired. The BICI said:

In light of recent allegations that the Bahrain Commission of Inquiry (BICI) has reached a determination on its investigation, as well as verbal and physical attacks on its staff, the BICI wishes to make the following statement.

Despite misleading headlines in recent news articles claiming that the Commission has determined that the government of Bahrain committed no crimes against humanity during the demonstrations that have occurred over the last several months, the Commission would like to clarify that it has not made any such determination. The Commission’s investigation is ongoing and will continue until all relevant evidence has been gathered. Its staff is still in the process of interviewing victims and witnesses, collecting evidence, and evaluating the circumstances. The Commission will not make a determination as to the extent of human rights abuses in Bahrain until its investigation is complete. Because certain media outlets and activists have misrepresented the comments of the Commission Chair, Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, in order to support their political positions, for the time being, the Commission will no longer entertain interviews to the media. Should the Commission decide that a public statement is necessary, it will provide this information on its website, www.bici.org.bh. The Commission will not allow itself to be used as a political tool for any group.

Source: BICI – 15 August 2011

The news release describes what has happened and also bothers to explain why they think these unfortunately events took place. An angry mob surged into the commission’s building and some chose to use the occasion to demonstrate to the commission their displeasure with alleged pre-conclusions attributed to the commission’s chief whose comments were misrepresented in the local press. In particular, people have taken umbrage with Bassioni’s characterization that there are no systemic human rights abuses in Bahrain and that the government has not committed any crimes against humanity, allegations which he’s denied. The mob stuck posters on the building’s walls and verbally and physically abused the Commission’s staff.

I have no problem whatsoever in criticizing any official entity, in fact I whole-heartedly encourage it because criticism engenders transparency and issue notices to the entity in question that they’ll be held publicly accountable. But criticism is better delivered in a peaceful and – if possible – a civilized manner. That way, the message is transmitted and received in a much more conducive atmosphere that might ensure positive action, but creating a mob and attacking such a highly regarded Commission because you disagree with its purported positions is not just simply ridiculous but criminal, apart from this action being completely premature in the first place. They are here to help us. They are here to ascertain the much required truth on which reconciliation efforts could be built and lead the country to a better and more equitable future. Isn’t this what you fought for?

Those who instigated this mob behavior should be exposed and have the book thrown at them too. Some of the press is culpable. They should also be held responsible for heightening tensions by misrepresenting the truth. They should be investigated and if libel is found to have been committed, and I contend that it has, then the responsible journalists should face the law and the BJA should waste no time in censuring them.

All this country needs is a whiff of a spark for it to explode again. We need to return to calm in order to gauge the better way forward and this Commission has the potential of helping us achieve that. It is time for the community leaders to step up and offer advice and direction to calm the passions of people and explain how this Committee has much to benefit them and the country, so let them do their work. If when the report is published it is determined to be sub-par in any way, then and only then can further moves take place, but don’t prejudge their conclusions. Let’s give the BICI the benefit of the doubt and help them, help us.

Filed in: Politics

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