In the past week BNA has been full of articles supposedly showing how the international community ‘welcomes Bahrain reforms’ and other such claims after the BICI report. Notably they published some quotes attributed to British MP Conor Burns, which he quickly refuted and claimed he would lodge a complaint against BNA.
Well it looks like they are at it again. Having a flick through the daily reports from Bahrain News Agency we came across this little piece entitled “France Welcomes Bahraini Reforms”. Often it’s impossible to verify what was actually said and what BNA quoted, but luckily with the French they publish their daily briefings online.
BNA quote the spokesman for the French Foreign Minister as saying (talking about the report from the BICI implementation commission) “reflects the keen interest of the Government of Bahrain to meet the requirements of the Bassiouni Commission.”
So BNA are basically saying that the French Foreign Minister believes that Bahrain is meeting the requirements of BICI.
However, unfortunately for BNA, the French diplomatic website doesn’t quite say that. Here they say, “We’ve taken note of the submission of this report; we noted with interest the efforts of the Bahraini government to respond to the Bassiouni Commission’s recommendations.”
A very different statement indeed. Here they are saying that they recognise with interest (this can be a positive or negative feeling) the Bahrain Governments response to the BICI recommendations.
Yes it can be argued that they are showing positive sentiments but the real issue here is the use of the word interest. BNA have put the word in a different place to make the sentence sound stronger that Bahrain is implementing the BICI.
It really makes one consider how much BNA have done this with other countries and foreign dignitaries. Everyday they are full of statements from notable people around the world expressing their support for Bahrain’s Governments and it’s clear they do this to give a false sense of respectability to the Government.
But it also works to isolate the opposition. It creates the idea amongst activists on the ground that they stand alone with no international support.
It’s a clever PR trick, but it’s also hugely misleading. We call on those with an interest in Bahrain to bring these issues to light and start piling pressure on BNA to stop this tactic. If you are French, speak to the Foreign Office, inform them and persuade them to complain. This is the only way it will change.
But let’s also be clear about what this is. This is no ‘rogue’ media outlet misreporting the truth. BNA is the mouthpiece of the Government and proves just how the Government uses the media and PR to create a false image. To this extent Bahrain is a false state, creating it’s own version of the truth. It’s done this time and time again and ironically is in direct breach of the BICI recommendations that call for independent, non-biased, non sectarian media!
Screenshots of the two differing statements: