News / Middle East

Bahrain Rights Report Finds Government Used Excessive Force

Anti-government protesters run away from tear-gas fired by riot police during a demonstration in Manama (file photo).
Anti-government protesters run away from tear-gas fired by riot police during a demonstration in Manama (file photo).

The head of a special commission investigating Bahrain's unrest says the government used "excessive force" and tortured detainees during its bloody crackdown on protesters earlier this year.

Commission chief Cherif Bassiouni also announced Wednesday that the investigation did not find evidence linking Iran to the uprising.  Bahrain's rulers have blamed Iranian interference for stirring up the unrest.

The much-anticipated report about the treatment of demonstrators in Shi'ite-led protests calling for democratic reform found that at least 35 people were killed during the unrest, including some security force members.  The report was authorized by Bahrain's Sunni monarchy and was based on interviews with more than 5,000 people.

Lack of evidence of abuse

Despite saying the government used excessive force in the crackdown, the report concluded there was no evidence that Gulf-area troops committed human rights abuses in the small country.  Bahrain's Sunni Muslim authorities called in Saudi-led troops in March to help crush the protests.

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said the government is "grateful" for the report's identification of the ways in which authorities must improve.  He praised the report as a "catalyst for positive change" and vowed to hold officials involved in the abuses accountable for their actions.

New clashes

Bahraini security forces clashed with protesters in at least two Shi'ite towns hours before the release of the independent report.

Wednesday's street battles first broke out in Aali, outside the capital Manama, after a man died when his car smashed into a house when police allegedly forced him off the road.  

It is not clear whether the dead motorist had been involved in protests, which take place frequently in Shi'ite areas of Bahrain and often are met with force.

Rights groups say more than 3,000 people were detained in the March crackdown, and as many as half of those faced abuses such as electric shocks and beatings in detention.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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