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Based on more than 5,000 interviews with protesters, Bahrain residents and foreigners, the inquiry represents perhaps the most comprehensive look at any of the uprisings and crackdowns that have roiled the Arab world this year. In its sheer breadth - it runs to 489 pages - the report appeared to mark a first for the Arab world, pulling the shroud back from the inner workings of secretive security forces.


King Khalifa commissioned the report from an independent panel that he appointed in the summer to investigate the protests and crackdown; all members of the commission are internationally recognized in their fields. The results had been eagerly anticipated by both the nation's Shiites, who represent about 70 percent of the population, and the ruling Sunni minority.


The commission found that Bahrain's security services and Interior Ministry "followed a systematic practice of physical and psychological mistreatment, which amounted in many cases to torture, with respect to a large number of detainees."


In the report, the panel called the government's use of force and firearms excessive and, "on many occasions, unnecessary, disproportionate and indiscriminate." It cited instances in which masked men broke into the homes of dissidents between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., "terrorizing" inhabitants.


The inquiry determined that 35 people died during the protests, including five security personnel. Five detainees were tortured to death while in custody, the panel concluded, and other detainees endured electric shocks and were beaten with rubber hoses and wires. Hundreds of people were also injured.


A total of 2,929 people were arrested during the protests, the report said, and at least 700 remain in prison. The commission urged a review of the sentences handed down to protesters.


The commission also determined that Shiites were not the only victims of violence and intimidation: it said that Sunni Muslims were targets for humiliation, physical assaults and attacks against their property.


The king, speaking during the televised news conference, said that officials who engaged in abuses during the crackdown would be held accountable and replaced. He pointedly cited wrongs, although he portrayed them as having been committed by both sides.


And despite the commission's conclusion that Iran did not play a role in the uprising, the king again insisted that Iran, a Shiite majority nation, had incited the unrest in Bahrain.


In Washington, the Obama administration welcomed the report, but said the onus was now on Bahrain's government to hold accountable those responsible for abuses and to undertake reforms to make sure they do not occur again.



Read the full report


Other sources on GCC civil society and human rights