9-11-2013By Brian Dooley
Human Rights Defenders Program
Once again the Bahraini media has proven that it plays fast and loose with the truth in its reporting of the regime’s meetings with foreign diplomats. An article in today’s English-language Gulf Daily News claimed that U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council at Geneva Eileen Donahoe refuted remarks made by earlier in the week by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in which she criticized the government of Bahrain.
A story titled “U.S. Backs Bahrain” reported from Geneva that a “Bahrain parliamentary team yesterday won superpower backing against ‘unfair’ comments,” and that “America’s Ambassador to the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, Eileen Donahoe, agreed that her remarks did not reflect reality.” Yesterday the state-controlled Bahrain News Agency (BNA) also reported that Donahoe met with Bahraini Members of Parliament and “agreed” that the Members “showcases the true nature incidents” (sic).
Ambassador Donahoe hit back on Twitter this morning, saying “Story is NOT accurate. #Bahrain gov del ask to meet after US joined JS: I expressed concern re Min of Justice order.” Earlier this week the Bahraini Minister for Justice announced that opposition figures in Bahrain would have to notify the government in advance if they intended to meet representatives of foreign governments. Also this week The United States, along with 46 other countries, signed a statement expressing concern over human rights violations in Bahrain.
This is not the first time the Bahraini media has been caught falsifying what happened at governments meetings. In June 2011, the BNA reported that Pillay had recognized that “misinformation” had been spread about the crisis in the Kingdom. In a statement the following day, a Pillay spokesperson described the BNA account of a meeting held with Bahraini officials as a “distortion of her words” and asked for a retraction.
The government-supported media in Bahrain media seems determined to cement its pants on fire reputation. The U.S. government should really wonder how reliable an ally Bahrain is when its state media distorts conversations with senior American officials. A full statement from Ambassador Donahoe about what was said and not said in the meeting would help clarify things.
Update: The U.S. Mission to the U.N. in Geneva posted a statement expressing its “deep disappointment and concern over gross factual inaccuracies” reported by the Bahrain News Agency and the Gulf Daily News.