Bahrain Turns to Miami to Teach Police Not to Abuse Protesters
A former Miami police chief has agreed to travel to Bahrain to teach police how to handle protesters without abusing human rights.
John Timoney, who had to deal with violent protests in Miami in 2003, will lead a group of British and American police advisers to the strife-ridden kingdom, according to the Miami New Times.
Wide-scale human rights violations during the Arab Spring uprising in the oil-rich kingdom have escaped major headlines because Bahrain does not share the political spotlight with Libya, Syria and Egypt.
However, enough reports have been disseminated of what the BBC called “an island of fear" that the Sunni Muslim monarchy is taking action to reform the police dealing with Shi’ite Muslim demonstrators.
Timoney is not free from accusations of human rights violations. Commenting on the 2003 Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) protests, Circuit Judge Richard Margolius said at the time that he knew of felonies by police officers, whose actions were "a disgrace for the community.''
However, Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle concluded, "The police were very professional, very controlled... I think we have a model here for the rest of the world to emulate in the future when these sort of events take place.”
Bahrain’s monarchy previously has promised to reform the police following an independent committee report last month that police tortured protesters. Opposition leaders say the repression of mainly Shiite anti-government protesters by the country's Sunni monarchy is "systematic."
International rights organizations have repeatedly accused Bahrain's government of violating citizens' rights, citing allegations of torture, unfair trials, excessive use of force and violent repression.
Local rights groups reported 1,500 cases of arbitrary arrest, 1,866 of torture, 2,710 summary firings, and said 477 students have been expelled for allegedly taking part in the uprising.