Bahrain’s Independent Commission issues findings over months of unrest


The head of Bahrain’s Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) announced Wednesday its findings from a report on the February and March unrest in Bahrain, revealing violations of human rights.

“Failure to punish abusers led to culture of impunity,” Cherif Bassiouni said in a press conference in Manama announcing the findings of the inquiry by a panel commissioned by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.

The death toll from the unrest reached 35, the official said, which included five security personnel.

Bassiouni said that Pakistanis and other foreigners residing in Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, were also targeted during the crackdown, which led to 30 places of worship being destroyed.

“The BICI Report has pointed out the impact of the unrest on the Government’s performance and the detrimental repercussions on citizens and residents’ lives, giving a full account of events taking place in Bahrain,” a cabinet statement on the BICI report read.

A Government taskforce to scrutinize the report has been instructed to hold its first meeting onThursday, the official Bahrain news agency reported. It will submit a proposed work plan before the Cabinet convenes for its weekly session.

Following the start of the Arab Spring, protesters began occupying a square in the capital Manama in February — just days after crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir Square celebrated the downfall of Hosni Mubarak.

Weeks later, security forces stormed Manama's Pearl Square, tore down the landmark six-pronged monument at its center and imposed martial law.

The Egyptian-born human rights lawyer Bassiouni said, however, that the inquiry did not find evidence that Gulf troops, who intervened during the unrest, committed abuses.

“The commission did not find any proof of human rights violations caused by the presence of the Peninsula Shield forces,” said Cherif Bassiouni, the head of Bahrain’s Independent Commission of Inquiry, announcing the findings of the probe commissioned by King Hamad.

No Iranian involvement

The rights inquiry head also said the panel did not find proof of an Iranian role in the unrest.

“Evidence presented to the commission did not prove a clear link between the events in Bahrain and Iran,” Bassiouni said.

The findings were given in the hope that they could ease the political stalemate between the government and the opposition.

In response to the findings. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa told the conference that the Bahrain government accepts criticism in rights report and spoke of change needed and action to be taken on the security forces in question.

“The government welcomes the findings of the Independent Commission, and acknowledges its criticisms,” the statement said.

“We took the initiative in asking for this thorough and detailed inquiry to seek the truth and we accept it.”

“The country’s laws need change to bring them in line with international standards … Officials accused of abuses will be held accountable and replaced,” the King added.