The long-awaited visit to Bahrain by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has been cancelled by the Alkhalifa regime. It had been postponed twice before and now it looks that it will not take place after all. People who know the regime have always said that it is impossible to allow any international individual or team to visit the country for the purpose of investigating crimes against humanity. In the immediate aftermath of the international outcry following the bloody attacks on Pearl Roundabout in 2011, the Alkhalifa were advised by their allies to form a commission to look into those allegations. On 23rd November 2011 the Commission, headed by Cherif Bissioni issued its findings confirming that the regime had used “systematic torture” against detainees and “extra judicial killings” had taken place. An independent investigator like the Juan Mendes, the UN Special Rapporteur on Tortu re would have certainly found evidence against the ruler and his clique that they are managing a regime whose policies had always sanctioned torture. At no point would the Alkhalifa abandon this crime against humanity. The cancellation of the visit is clear and damning evidence that they have not refrained from torture. It needs only one person to go around the villages and towns to collect testimonies of hundreds of victims of torture. The dictator, Hamad bin Isa Alkhalifa would have been implicated in those crimes against humanity.
International human rights bodies have condemned the decision unreservedly. Human Rights First criticised the decision by the Bahrain government to postpone Juan Mnedz’s visit to the country. “This is a huge blow to the credibility of Bahrain’s reform process,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. He added:” Despite repeated promises that he would be allowed in next month the same thing has happened again. The U.S. government should publicly call for his immediate access to Bahrain. These delays only fuel the suspicion that the regime has a lot to hide.” “It seems like the Bahrain regime is frightened of what more international scrutiny might reveal. It’s very telling that they’ve shut Mendez out again,” said Dooley.
Amnesty International also condemned the cancellation of Mendez’s trip. "This latest cancellation shows that Bahrain is clearly not serious about implementing human rights reforms. The authorities have used the buzzword of 'reform' as a smoke screen, when in reality they are not reforming," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director. She added: "There are no reforms in Bahrain, but rather human rights abuses continuing unabated." "The Bahraini government must immediately release all prisoners of conscience and conduct independent, effective and transparent investigations into allegations of torture," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui. "It must also bring to justice anyone at any level of the chain of command who committed or gave the orders to commit abuses; and refrain from further use of unnecessary or excessive force against protesters.
The Special Rapporteur himself, Juan Mendez said: “Let me be clear, this was a unilateral decision by the authorities. Unfortunately, it is not the first time the Government has tried to avoid responsibility for the postponement of my visit, which was originally supposed to take place over a year ago.” Mr Mendez said: “I would like to express my compassion with the people of Bahrain who were expecting my visit, civil society and in particular, victims of torture and ill-treatment and their families,”
The regime waited to 22nd April, the day after the end of the Gran Prix to deliver the cancellation letter in order not to jeopardise the race. Its senior officials are angry that the Formula 1 has exposed the reality of the country to the world at large. To the annoyance of the regime, journalists rushed to the towns and villages to cover the ongoing Revolution. Thus the outcome has been the opposite of what they had planned and hoped for. Future games are likely to become more destructive to the regime as the people became acquainted with the tactics of informing foreign journalists. The Alkhalifa have already started to exact revenge on Bahrainis who caused them so much embarrassment. Arbitrary arrests, torture, heavy sentences and collective punishment have become rampant since the end of the grand prix.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
25th April 2013