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By       Message WILLIAM FISHER     Permalink
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"Amnesty International is concerned that they are being held solely because they took part in protests, in which case they would both be  prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally," he added.

Amnesty said the two activists started their hunger strike to protest their continued detention, while others have been released on bail.

At least 500 people have been detained in Bahrain since month-long protests demanding democratic reforms broke out in the Gulf kingdom. Amnesty International said. Almost 2,000 people have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs, it added.

These include not only doctors, nurses and teachers, but university professors and many of their students.

A so-called "independent" Commission has been tasked by the King to investigate crimes against humanity in the tiny Gulf Kingdom. But Bahrain's pro-democracy spokesmen are attacking the international commission for "whitewashing" transgressions by the government and its security apparatus. Many of Bahrain's protesting groups have threatened to boycott the upcoming Parliamentary elections, scheduled for September.

Press reports that The Commission had finished its work and had found no evidence of crimes against humanity were greeted with a large crowd of protestors gathering outside the Commission's headquarters.

The Commission closed its offices and insisted its work is not yet finished.. The Commission is headed by Egyptian-born Professor Cherif Bassiouni, who has led UN investigations into alleged war crimes in Bosnia and Libya.

Meanwhile, Mehdi Hasan writes in The Guardian that Prime Minister David Cameron has greeted the crown prince of Bahrain, and a bit earlier it was reported that this same crown prince conferred with US State and Defense Department officials, and all the way up to President Barack Obama. And a bit later, American's two most senior military officials visited Bahrain, which is home to the US First Fleet,

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The Crown Prince reportedly told Obama he was concerned about "Bahrain's image."

Bahrain's image is about the last thing on the minds of the men, women and children who are being arrested, imprisoned and abused.

The Guardian's Mehdi Hasan again: "Pity the poor people of Bahrain. They have been shot, beaten, tear-gassed - and patronized."

He continued: "On 7 March, at the height of the pro-democracy protests in the tiny Gulf island kingdom, a crowd gathered outside the US embassy in Manama, the capital, carrying signs that read 'Stop supporting dictators' and 'Give me liberty or give me death.'

"A US embassy official emerged from the building with a box of doughnuts for the protesters, prompting a cleric in the crowd to remark: "These sweets are a good gesture, but we hope it is translated into practical actions."

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It hasn't been.

Instead, while an international fact-finding panel keeps digging, and the government prepares to hold Parliamentary elections, there has been no let-up in the arrests, jailing and abuse of political dissidents.

The Crown Prince has plenty of good reason to worry about his country's "image."

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William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)

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