Claimed footage of police beating protester after funeral of a political prisoner, 3 October 2012
You might think that the Bahraini regime has no reason to edit the words of the British Government. After all, British Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed only this week that the two countries had established a "new ministerial-level dialogue", meeting annually, as "a forum to discuss key regional issues such as Syria, Iran, and the impact of the Arab Spring". The forum would "raise areas of concern", as well as discuss British support of "Bahrain as it seeks to improve the situation in the country".
Apparently, however, nothing less than unqualified backing --- free from "concern" --- is enough for the regime.
Consider this press release from the Bahrain News Agency on a statement on Friday by Hague's deputy, Minister of State Alistair Burt:
In a statement marking the first anniversary of [the Bahrain Independent Commission of Enquiry] Report, he lauded the wise leadership for approving the inquiry results.
He also paid tribute to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa for adopting the BICI recommendations as a launchpad to forge ahead with reforms.
The UK minister commended the steps undertaken by the Kingdom of Bahrain which ensured no authority for the National Security Agency to apprehend and detain people.
Mr. Burt highlighted the establishment of a special probe unit to investigate people suspected of illegal acts or negligence.
He hailed the formation of the ombudsman at the Interior Ministry to probe complaints and grievances and supervising inquiries, pointing out that the issues revealed in the BICI report would require a long time to address.
He condemned the acts of terror and mounting street riots and sabotage, describing these tactics as totally unacceptable.
He also urged all Bahrainis to engage in a national dialogue and play a constructive role to ensure long-lasting security and stability prevail in the Kingdom.
Here is Burt's actual statement:
Establishing the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry was an unprecedented and positive response to the unrest which hit Bahrain in Spring 2011. We fully acknowledge the leadership it took to accept its findings and the commitment made by His Majesty to deliver reforms based on their recommendations.
We commend the steps taken so far, including ensuring that the National Security Agency does not have the authority to arrest and detain individuals, the establishment of a Special Investigations Unit to determine the accountability of those who committed unlawful or negligent acts, and the establishment of a Police Ombudsman to receive complaints and grievances and to oversee and conduct investigations.
So far, so good. But then these paragraphs seem to have slipped past the regime's news agency:
But we are concerned by some of the recent decisions taken by the Bahraini Government, particularly on human rights, and we’re clear that there are areas where progress on implementation has been too slow and others where it is lacking. Much more needs to be done on relaxing censorship and allowing the opposition greater access to media, on integrating personnel from all communities in Bahrain into the security forces, and question marks remain on senior level accountability for the deaths and the allegations of torture following the unrest of 2011. The Bahraini Government has itself acknowledged that more work still needs to be done and the UK stands ready and willing to assist in whatever way we can.
The Commission’s report revealed deep-rooted issues that pose significant challenges for the Bahraini Government and will take time to fully address, as will a change in behaviour and culture.