Cablegate: Bahraini Officials React to Torture Allegations
DE RUEHMK #0099 0561149
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 251149Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9226
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAMA 000099
STATE FOR NEA, DRL, INL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/25/2020
TAGS: PGOV PHUM ASEC KISL BA
SUBJECT: BAHRAINI OFFICIALS REACT TO TORTURE ALLEGATIONS
REF: MANAMA 71
Classified By: Ambassador Adam Ereli for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.(C) Summary: Emboffs told a senior interior ministry official that the GOB should study carefully the Human Rights Watch report on alleged torture in Bahrain, and should consider an independent investigation. The SecGen of an independent Bahraini human rights watchdog questioned part of the report publicly, and quickly stepped down when other members of the group objected to his statement. End summary.
2.(C) DCM met with MOI Undersecretary Brigadier Tariq Bin Daineh on February 17 to discuss the allegations contained in the Human Rights Watch report released in Bahrain the previous week. Poloff and RSO accompanied. DCM noted the Foreign Minister's measured public statement of February 9 (reftel) and urged the GOB to study the report carefully and to respond in a manner that was credible to the USG and to the international community. He stressed that it would not suffice to merely claim, as some (Sunni) MPs had, that the HRW authors or their (Shia) associates in Bahrain had an anti-government agenda. The GOB, or even better an independent investigation, had to address the allegations forthrightly and transparently if the GOB hoped avoid damage to its international reputation.
3.(C) Bin Daineh said the GOB was still considering its response, but whatever the format, it would focus on the facts of the report. He then showed emboffs video shot by a participant in the Jid Hafs rioting of December 2007 which clearly showed the face of Naji Ali Hassan Fateel carrying a rifle stolen from a burning police vehicle. (Note: Fateel confessed to having taken the rifle, but later claimed to a judge that he made the confession under duress.) "Why would we need to torture him," exclaimed Bin Daineh, "We can see his face!" The video also included disturbing footage of the Pakistani man burned by Shia rioters in Ma'ameer in March, 2008. (Note: The man later died and his alleged attackers are on trial for murder.) Prominent Activist Questions Part of Report = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
4.(C) Bin Daineh added that Abdulla Al Derazi, SecGen of the independent Bahrain Human Rights Society, had investigated the HRW report's charge against MOI officer Yousef Al-Arabi and concluded it was inaccurate. Al Derazi made a public statement to this effect on February 9 (reftel). The next day, Derazi resigned from his post as BHRS' Secretary General. He told poloff that he "really got into hot water" with other members of the organization and said that in hindsight he should have consulted with members of the board before speaking in the name of BHRS. He noted that BHRS will hold its annual election of officers in April, and he expressed confidence that he would resume his previous post. In the meantime, he continues to function as BHRS' international liaison, and was traveling soon to human rights conference in Geneva. MFA: MOI in the Lead = = = = = = = = = = =
5.(C) On February 17, DCM made the same points to MFA Director of Bilateral Affairs Dr. Dhafer Al Umran. Al Umran agreed that Bahrain needed to respond credibly, but said that for the moment the Interior Ministry was taking the lead.
6.(C) Comment: Both the Foreign Minister (reftel) and senior officials at MOI appear to understand that the HRW report represents a significant challenge internationally and domestically. ERELI