Bahrain sets up fact-finding team for recent unrest


Bahrain’s king ordered the formation of an independent fact-finding team to investigate weeks of protests that rocked the Gulf island nation earlier this year, the state news agency said.

The announcement comes ahead of a national dialogue, set to start on Saturday, which the government hails as a chance for reforms and reconciliation in a country riven with sectarian divisions after Bahrain’s Sunni rulers cracked down on the protests, led mostly by the Shi’ite majority.
“We still need to look at what happened to know all the details of February and March and evaluate those events as they really were,” King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said, speaking at an extraordinary cabinet session, Reuters reports.

The king said in a statement released by Bahrain News Agency that Bahrain had consulted with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on establishing the committee.
“For there were victims of violence whom we cannot forget… A lack of confidence has prevailed and vision has been blurred by rumours.”

No opposition leaders were immediately available to comment on how the move might affect their participation in the dialogue — they have yet to say whether they would even attend.

Bahrain’s Sunni rulers have accused the pro-democracy protesters of having a sectarian agenda with backing from Shi’ite power Iran, across Gulf waters.

Many Shi’ites, who deny the charges, say they have suffered the brunt of the crackdown, which included an arrest campaign of hundreds of people and sackings of up to 2,000 workers.