Bassiouni’s Disappointment

Professor Cherif Bassiouni is visibly disappointed with the regime’s response to his BICI report and is frustrated with the pace of adoption of its recommendations. While he suggests that the US administration should have a more active and visible role into urging the Bahraini regime to accelerate reforms as pointed out in his report and do so in a public manner.

Professor Bassiouni’s also not averse to naming and shaming those who have been proven at fault. Although I don’t regard this last fact as a threat of him actually doing so himself if the pace of change continues in its spiral of deceleration, I too see the merit in exposing them if only to act as an example for others to think of before they too take the path of subjugation. As the saying goes (loosely): the security from punishment is misbehavior (من أمن العقاب أساء الأدب).

What is much more damning in this short report; however, is his evaluation of this snail-paced and superficial changes, is due to the royal family’s overarching preoccupation with their own familial loyalty, unity and internal conflict rather than that of unifying the country itself.

Very perceptive.

The logical thing, in my humble opinion and if I may be so bold as to offer some advice, that would be for the regime to relax its grip on power somewhat and spearhead true reforms. As I’ve said countless times before, this single action will not only save the country from dire consequences, but ironically, will also ensure the regime’s very own survival.

I’m not very sure that at this particular juncture that anyone is intent on listening to logic or sincere advice.

18 thoughts on “Bassiouni’s Disappointment”

  1. Mahmood, I am copy/pasting a comment I posted on another topic below:

    For sure he has his reasons for not speaking up himself and instead stating he would wish President Obama & Hillary Clinton would speak up . But why, if he realizes what is going on,and he is concerned for the country, does he only speak to his university news outlet?

    Why not give an interview somewhere prominent and at least do a bit to try and sway the right people to kick into action before it is too late?

    I don’t understand it. If you’ve taken on what for the country was a pivotal role in uncovering and describing mistreatment, torture and all that, how can you go away,see what is going on now and be so contained in your external reaction….especially if you have a clear view of what should be done to make things better…… and know that your voice could make a difference ?

    Very very frustrating – though that is too mild a word….

    As for other points you raise: Prof. Bassiouni’s comments are not a surprise to anyone, I think. The only surprise is that he actually voices them.

    I am making my judgement above without knowing the behind the scenes activities — perhaps he is so smart in matters of lobbying, diplomacy and using media that he knows speaking to his university media will set in motion just enough ripples to make some people sit up, yet not disturb his status quo ?

    It is his prerogative to speak or not to speak – but I find it incredibly disappointing that someone who has lived in the country, worked there, made money, produced a very ground breaking and important document, documented abuses and now sees that his work is potentially being used just as whitewash, whilst the crackdown and many of the injustices he and his team documented continue unabated chooses not to speak out in a stronger way.

    On the ‘other side’:

    If the BICI report, adverse news coverage, human rights reports, a downgraded credit rating, behind the scenes diplomacy, an F1 in jeopardy for the 2nd year and the potential of the country being in continuous state of unrest possibly for years, won’t do the trick, then I do not see that anything will, in the family firm.

    The powers that be seem to think the decrees and changes being put out at present are just fine.

    Fine for what is the question of course — to use as PR tools ? to appease one’s own self as in ‘ I did my best’ ?, to have some ‘nice’ messages for diplomatic talks and encounters?

    All academic questions though. The reality is, it is getting worse and worse. Don’t think we need to hold our breaths for Feb 14, as in the date, – it is all kicking off everywhere already, and will only get smokier and uglier with each passing day.

    And I do not see that anyone is doing anything, other than stand by and watch.

    1. Dana I can understand his position as he was brought in and asked to produce a report within defined parameters, he did his job, presented his report and off he goes to another job. He was not tasked with his findings’ implementation nor should he be. It is up to the regime, the government and the citizens to ensure its implementation. He did do a good job, much to the chagrin of the regime, which, by all indications were disconnected and unbelieving of any “rumors” of intransigence. Their shock and humiliation as he reeled off his confirmations of serious wrongs done left them in a complete and unfamiliar quandary. You could almost see the “Oh Shit!” expressions on the faces of those present at the report’s presentation.

      My own estimation is that although they asked for this commission of enquiry thinking that it will sing their praises and confirm their own misplaced suspicion that if wrongs have indeed occurred, they would be deemed not to be systematic and would be minor. Hence, they were completely unprepared for the barrage of indictments against them. So, the slow pace of reform only suggests that they not only did not anticipate this, but they never had the honest intention to address these intrinsic wrongs; hence the continued police and mobs actions with impunity among all the other things that have and continue to happen.

      It will take a lot of vision, courage and trust to implement these changes. I fail to see any of those qualities at this particular time.

  2. Mahmood, yes of course, fully agree.

    My frustration is perhaps that of one ‘helpless onlooker’ ( is that a word ? ), unable to do anything to stop what is going on, seeing someone else who was so deeply involved, who has so much insight, has a view and all of the right connections and the right gravitas to speak and be heard, yet doesn’t really.

    It’s not his job – of course. And he is a very smart person, obviously – perhaps that is part of his ethics, to remain a sort of impartial observer.

    My frustration is with the human side. If you see how much suffering there is, and how much worse it could potentially get, and you know you voice could have weight to perhaps effect some meaningful positive change – why don’t you speak louder.

    I am sure he has some very logical, some very smart and good reasons, and I am sure he also does what he can behind the scenes. Nevertheless, it is a bit disappointing.

    Everyone stands by, watches, while a nation is crumbling…

  3. The regime would be glad of a chance to disown and disparage the whole report.

    Speaking out loudly could give them an opening for this. The Professor could be accused of being partisan.

  4. I think the problem lies with the implementation and what is deemed as a standard reform to shut people up once and for good. Unfortunately people are looking for a little bit more. Obviously the real intention is gravely missing, thus the presented impression that whatever the govt does, is nothing more than a cosmetic coverup. The next month will no doubt be scary :( I’d wish that all those funds invested in making people’s life a misery were spent on something useful. My currents thoughts are full of doubt and uncertainties and I can only sincere that the chief’s put their heads together and sort this fiasco of mess properly.

  5. Let’s face the fact the the BICI was just for propaganda, and to escape a UN fact finding mission, and may being trialed by the ICC.

  6. I do not think Professor Bassiouni or the other experts saw it that way – they are highly respected professionals and would not compromise their integrity.

    They must however be feeling a bit ‘used’ at this stage – perhaps that’s what prompted his interview ?

    If you are involved at this level with human rights violations, can you really sit back, close the book and detach ? I believe not. It’s not like a factory worker who has just produced an object — you’re put your experience, reputation into a report, but also into helping to change the course of a country for the better.

    If you then see that your report is not being used as intended, and the conseequence is human suffering – the betterment of which much have prompted you into your profession in the first place – can you just turn away ? no way….

  7. Some people did say that such an investigation was a waste of time and money. The Govt. didn’t do anything to speed up reform

  8. The US should keep out of the affairs of Arab nations as much as possible because nothing good can come of it. We should only take a position where it affects our national security.

    The Arab world is hopeless. Encouraging reform there is like pushing a rope. Arabs don’t want reform, they want to go back to Sharia law and endless fighting with each other. When we partner with Arabs to make them crazy rich, like Saudi Arabia, they hate us even more and send terrorists to kill us. If we force them to reform, like Iraq, at great cost in blood and treasure, they immediately start sliding back to their bad old ways. If we cut them a deal like Egypt where we pay them a billion dollars a year not to attack Israel, they still flip to Islamist.

    The Arab world is unreformable, a write off, a dead loss. Any engagement with the Arab world brings negative consequences. Nothing turns out well there, nothing. Instead of wasting our time in the futile tasking of reforming backward Arab nations, America should promote individual rights, democracy, and capitalism everywhere else where it is well received. The Arab world should be left, as much as possible, to wither on the vine.

    The model for this approach is South Korea, which has happily flourished under US promotion of democracy, individual freedom, and capitalism, while North Korea, left to its own, has declined into desperate impoverishment. One day soon, North Korea will collapse and the people will vote with their feet for the South Korean model.

    Let the same happen with the Arabs. We should partner with India to build it up into a great power. Once the Iranians overthrow their mullahs, we should partner up with the Persians to build them up into a modern, civilized nation. Where ever we go, we should build up friendly non-Arab powers as a way of combating the instinctive Arab hate of all things outside their tribe, race, and religion.

    1. Steve, you are either rather prone to sarcasm, or haven’t clicked on to the fact that, not so far down the road, the ‘we’ you are so proudly talking about might be the one withering on the vine.

      Money talks, in super power stakes and, if you hadn’t noticed, there’s a new kid on the block, growing super-fast — 2016 is just round the corner..

      1. As long as America maintains its individual freedoms and democracy, we won’t be withering anytime soon.

        As far as “new kids” on the block, seen ‘em before, pal. When I was in high school, Brazil was supposed to be the next superpower. Before that, the Soviet Union was going to bury us. Then Japan had the secret sauce and would take over. Now China is supposedly the up and comer. Yawn.

        China is on the brink of bankruptcy, pal. The stupid commies have forced their banks to make bad loans to support big stupid commie projects that don’t turn a profit. Crony capitalism works great until it doesn’t. The classic flaw of authoritarian governments is that they can not easily change course when their leadership is wrong. Right now, China is headed full steam toward an economic cliff.

          1. Go read up on China, Dana. You can start with the ghost cities they are building. Then ask yourself, are ghost cities the future or are they evidence of massive government bungling.

  9. I’ve been to China Steve. But we are digressing. The focus here is Bahrain.

    1. Bahrain is hosed, Dana. You can’t have a representative democracy that respects individual rights under the current monarchy which is backed by Saudi Arabia. Game over. You’ll always be a subject there, never a citizen.

      If you’d like a free life where you command your circumstances and future, you need to flee to the West. Bahrain is hopeless. Living there is a dead end.

  10. Steve, nobody who is truly connected to this country will be able to divorce themselves from what is going on, or completely give up hope, no matter how hopeless it may seem at times.

    Bahrain is about more than what you see. there is a lot more to the country than what system rules it. And that intangible something is special enough to hold out hope for a better future, which sees the country and its people be all it/they can be – not matter how bleak it may look right now.

  11. Don’t know about anyone else, but I saw nothing unexpected or new in Prof. Bassiouni’s report. Yawning one’s way through it, whether balanced, pro or against, the word ‘sectarianism’ has been deemed a ‘politically incorrect’ utterance it seems. For goodness sake, the international media never ever mention Shiite and Sunni with regard to Syria. I have absolutely no idea why!
    Sectarianism hasn’t been healed in 1500 years, so what magic powers has anyone in Bahrain/the world got that will fix it, when minarets are still screaming God’s vengeance of one sort or another. Hell, even football matches in the UK are sectarian.
    One must ask; what would ‘really’ actually change in Bahrain if the dominance was altered?
    Many say the best years in Bahrain was the late 70s early 80s when just about ‘anything goes/went’, but not in the villages apparently and certainly not in the hearts of the people. But expats liked it.
    Then the Ayatollah arrived and funny how this place ‘dramatically’ changed but nobody dare mention it.
    Then the National Charter through 2000 ostensibly gave many a voice and even a job, to some extent, but still the rules meant little as it appears there are many Gods with very different children.
    In the end, if ever, perhaps only fear itself which has created this cauldron can break that pathetic indoctrination. But since it will ‘never’ be off the table at any negotiations, one can only sit on the side and hope that the mass of somewhat ‘quite gentle’ Bahrainis can shine through.

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