We included this story in this morning’s Ticker, but we think it’s important enough to give it a little more detail.
Salon reports that Qorvis is working with the ruling family of Bahrain (the country’s King is Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa) at a rate of $40,000 per month (plus expenses) with the goal of improving the government’s image. The firm has issued a statement following a raid on what the government says was an unlicensed Doctors Without Borders office in a residential building. A spokesperson for the nonprofit denies this, telling NPR that the group has been upfront with the government.
*Clarification after the jump.
NPR also writes: “The larger issue is the way that the medical community in Bahrain has become a battleground. During the crackdown, dozens of doctors and medics working in Bahraini hospitals were arrested and accused of making the wounds of protesters worse — and in some cases, even killing protesters — to make the government look bad.”
Qorvis and the rest of the PR community must keep an eye on activity in Bahrain to make sure the government doesn’t cross the line into human rights violations, which would make the firm’s work both wrong and unethical.
According to Al Jazeera, that line may have already been crossed, with allegations that authorities have tortured prisoners.
At this point, we know that some detainees have or will be released, and that there is an investigation underway into a government crackdown on demonstrations that took place in February in March and resulted in the deaths of at least 32 people.
*According to Matt Lauer, a partner at Qorvis, the firm has been working with the Bahraini government for about a year, but was most recently assigned work that focuses on the reforms the government says are underway.