Pantsless Progressive

The Bahraini government admits using “excessive force” against anti-government protesters, according to a statement released Monday. 

The timing of this minor concession is likely not a coincidence: an independent commission studying the Bahrain uprising is expected to release a human rights report this week.

What you need to know about the commission:

  • The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry was created in July by King Hamad to investigate human rights abuses during the anti-government crackdown in the island nation
  • Though the group was established by the state, the panel includes a war crimes investigator, a member of the UN Human Rights Committee and a former ICC judge.
  • Amnesty International said of the five-member panel, “This is certainly an impressive line-up of independent international experts.”
  • The commission’s report was delayed at the end of October in order to continue conducting interviews.

From the government statement released today:

The government has carried out its own assessments and conducted its own investigations. These investigations have revealed things to praise as well as things to deplore.

Regrettably, there have been instances of excessive force and mistreatment of detainees. This was in violation of government policy. Twenty prosecutions against the officers involved have been initiated.

The independent commission’s report is expected to be released Wednesday. The group said they received over 8,000 “complaints, testimonies and documents.” Below is a better picture of the work behind this report:

In 14-hour days, often stretching far longer, the commission carried out 2,343 interviews, took 4,483 statements, held 48 meetings and carried out 35 investigations, one of them stumbling on a jail where an adolescent had been burned by a cigarette butt only minutes before. (By virtue of the visit, the youth was released, and police suspended.)

Read more from Andrew Hammond at Reuters and the inimitable Anthony Shadid at the New York Times.

Also this week in Bahrain: Clashes broke out in Bahrain Saturday during a 16-year-old protester’s funeral. The boy, Ali Al-Badah, was killed by a police car. While officials say the police car accidentally lost control, other protesters claim police frequently drive right at demonstrators. 

[Photos: Anti-government protesters carrying Bahraini flags march at the funeral of 16-year-old protester Ali al-Badah in Sitra November 19 and anti-government protestors hold a picture of Bahrain’s King Hamad as they march in the funeral procession. Credit: Hamad Mohamed/Reuters]

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