The Bitter Pill

15 Oct, '11

The BICI‘s report is to be released soon and just as Professor Bassiouni believes, it will be contentious and both sides of the divide will have issues with it. However, if the report itself and its recommendations are not handled properly, the divide we have been experiencing since March 17th will transform instantly into an uncrossable schism.

As a country, though, we simply cannot afford not to take the report at face value and use it positively as a catalyst to rebuild this fractious society. There is simply no reason not to. The people tasked with the report are internationally recognised human rights defenders and each have a credible history in the field. They have nothing to gain from the report, but a solid reputation to lose if it is in fact found that the report is a cover-up of serious violations.

I readily lend my voice of confidence to the BICI, especially after I’ve heard the interview linked above with its president.

Let’s hope this bitter pill does wake us all up, yank us out of our unreasonably intrenched positions and force us to think of Bahrain and its future generations rather than the continued selfish and myopic positions so far taken in this very ill society. Let us also hope that the country’s leadership will have the required courage to enact its recommendations transparently and deal with all those who abused their powers through the very difficult times we have lived through without any thought given to sect or tribal affiliations, release those unfairly imprisoned and fairly compensate all those who have been wronged.

This is the time to demonstrate real leadership, half measures by them just won’t do.

The alternative is nothing less than continued strife and perpetual mutual accusations which will accelerate the annihilation of this country and all within it.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Mike Diboll says:

    The BICI cannot go far enough and the only thing that can heal Bahrain in the way Mahmood suggests would be an internationally supervised Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

    As you probably know, I’ve submitted substantial evidence to the BICI regarding the events of 13th March at the UoB. Do I have confidence in it? Absolutely, in terms of its terms of reference. But it’s terms of reference, and the nature of the Commission’s commission that is problematic. Not in a way that in any way impinges on the integrity of Professor Bassiouni et al which is and I’m sure will remain impeccable.

    The issue with its commission is that the BICI was set up in such a away as to (a) checkmate hardline the tendencies within the Khalifa family and their supporters (b) consolidate Hamad Khalifa’s reputation as a reformer and give him a legal cushion, should he ever need it.

    As such I think the BICI will indeed give the regime some very bitter pills to swallow indeed, and will expose some serious wrongdoing, and hopefully pave the way for the prosecution of offenders and reform of unjust practices.

    But as I said, BICI cannot go far enough, and what’s needed to heal the nation is an internationally supervised Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    Part of the problem is that, as Bassiouni says, the regime came very close to going the way of Mubarak. What he doesn’t say (somewhat oddly) is that the regime was saved my the sectarian make up of its security forces, a key difference to Egypt, and the Saudis.

    The result is a stalemate and I fear that the BICI’s report, while no doubt a superb piece of work, will be abused by warring factions as just about everything else has been since February. Only a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, under the direct supervision of the UN or some similarly respected international body can facilitate the healing to which Mahmood refers, and which Bahrain so desperately needs.

    • mahmood says:

      It’s a good first step though and must be recognised as a pioneering step in this part of the world, what would make it really good of course is if it’s report is worthy of its personnel’s reputation and if it is transparently adopted with enough courage to enact its recommendations.

      Once that (very difficult) step is taken, a truth and reconciliation commission is a natural next step and I would hazard a guess that it’s already in the making and will have the same sort of constitution as the BICI, i.e., composed of worthy and highly vouched for individuals who will be tasked to oversee its actions.

      The BICI and (hopefully soon to be announced) truth & reconciliation commission will strengthen the hands of the reformers and ironically prolong the rule of the Al-Khalifa dynasty as its natural outcome is a constitutional monarchy.

      • Mike Diboll says:

        A constitutional Khalifa monarchy might be a way forward. I can see how Al Wefaq and the other signatories to the Manama could sign up to this, given the CP’s interview the other day.

        I think the CP still has a journey to travel before he fully appreciated the depth of utter indignation that around half the population of Bahrain feels over the events of this year.

        For many Bahrainis, this has been a “revolution of dignity”: I know there are many Bahrainis on the other side that can’t get their heads around this at all. Having seen the history of Britain in Northern Ireland, I understand it only too well.

        So there is distance to travel on all sides ,including the opposition. But I really think that this distance is not untravellable.

        Were it not for sectarianism. There are still, very sadly, individuals who cannot understand that the hardline narrative has run its course.

        Yesterday, I met with a Bahraini opposition figure who was genuinely worried about the prospect of sectarian civil war and triumphalist “loyalist” ethnic cleansing in Bahrain.

        Frankly, I share this person’s fears. All I’d say to comfort this person is that after the massacres of the Shia that followed Desert Storm in the early 1990s, after Sebranica in Bosnia, after Rwanda, the international community is not likely to sit idly by.

        In this sense, the highly problematic presence of the American fleet does at least hold the very extreme “loyalist” sectarians in check. Such people do exist, and I’ve heard their filth with my own ears, most recently in Building S20 on 13th March at the UoB.

        How sad, then, to here this from the GND. This vile and one-sided cash-in of Professor Bassiouni’s 30 minute interview ahead of the does not auger well. I maintain that ONLY a Truth and Reconciliation Committee mandated by the UN or some similar body can facilitate Bahrain’s healing, with, if need be, UN peacekeeper boots on the ground.

        The question is, “Would the BICI herald such a commission, or subsititute it? By God, I hope it is the former. I am genuinely concerned that Bahrain could sink into sectarian civil war. The GDN’s irresponsible reporting of this interview sets a very grim precedent. Utterly irresponsible:

        • mahmood says:

          The GDN is a completely morally and intellectually bankrupt paper who thinks it’s doing the country good by its poison. Sadly, it’s not alone here, the Tribune has gone that path since it’s takeover by Mahmood Al-Mahmood and the remaining suspects are just as bad, if not actually worse, although that’s very hard to fathom if you’re not on the ground. So I wouldn’t put any weight to whatever they’re carrying. They’re preaching to their own minority crowd and gullible individuals who have no interest in the future of the country. At least I hope that their resonance is rather limited. They switch position whenever instructed and their so called editors are only too happy to do so in the interest of maintaining their brown-nosing status. This is a real shame.

          Yes, a Truth & Reconciliation Commission can be a way to get us out of this mess. More importantly, it hopefully will allow us not to descend into such a schism again. I shall continue to call for such a commission as it is urgently required. I’m not sure if it is the exclusive solution forward though, I’d keep my options open there to another solution which might be as effective though I honestly can’t think of any at this moment.

          I think that the BICI’s can be the catalyst to pave the way forward to a fully recognised and functional truth and reconciliation commission, if, of course, the much awaited report is credible and its recommendations honest.

  2. Yusuf says:

    If the interview’s content is true, then we can speculate that the outcome of BICI’s report will not be as impartial as it was set in the royal decree. At the moment, BICI is the time valve that is keeping all sides calm until the report is published. Let us all hope our fear of sectarian civil war does not materialise.

    I also believe an truly independent commission is the only answer.

  3. exclamation mark says:


    Keep in mind that one reason for the start of the BICI is to escape any international obligation regarding the violations that had occurred, based on the principle : clean your home before someone else does.

    Now there had been critics of how Bassiouni and his commission were working, especially when Bassiouni said he would refrain from giving any statements in August, but for some how he was in an interview, and giving official statements before the publish of the report. Question marks on this commission are being raised.

    All this does not mean that we have the right to judge the report before its publish, but this report would really show how transparent, precise and credible this commission is, and it would prove whether the people’s doubts and criticisms against the BICI were right or not.

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