Downing Street’s welcome insults the victims of Bahraini repression
“It is a shocking misjudgement to fete the Crown Prince of Bahrain at a time when his regime is arresting, jailing, torturing and killing peaceful democracy protesters. This welcome is a slap in the face to the victims of repression. Britain should be siding with Bahrain’s democrats, not with the dictatorship,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who has been working with and supporting the Bahraini democracy movement.
He was commenting on the meeting at Downing between David Cameron and the Bahraini Crown Prince, scheduled for 6pm today.
“Britain should not be conducting business as usual with a tyranny that is guilty of gross human rights abuses,” added Mr Tatchell.
“David Cameron should press the Bahraini authorities to lift the state of emergency immediately, stop attacking peaceful protesters, halt the use of torture and release all political prisoners. Saudi Arabia and the UAE should be urged to withdraw their troops.
“If the duty to protect civilians applies in Libya, why not in Bahrain?
“Instead of cosying up to the dictatorship, Britain should be working with the rest of the international community to impose sanctions on the Bahraini regime.
“These sanctions should include a halt to arms sales and military cooperation, a travel ban and assets-freeze on top regime officials and a prohibition on the export to Bahrain of luxury items for the rich ruling elite.
“Bahrain’s leaders should be referred to the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Council on charges of torture and crimes against humanity.
“Human rights activists in Bahrain report that at least 30 civilians have been killed, including four people who have died in custody after beatings and torture. Around 400 democracy protesters have been injured. Doctors and nurses who treated the wounded and spoke publicly about their injuries have been arrested, beaten and tortured. Forty-seven of them are being put on trial.
“Already four protesters have been sentenced to death, following military trials held behind closed doors.
“Close to 1,000 Bahrainis have been arrested since the start of protests in February, although about 300 of these have since been released. Twenty-one opposition activists and human rights defenders are being prosecuted on trumped up charges. An estimated 1,000 professionals have been sacked from their jobs, accused of pro-democracy and pro-Shia sympathies. The country’s only opposition newspaper has been closed down. The editors of Al-Wasat are being put on trial on bogus charges of misreporting the protests and the government’s crackdown. Twenty-seven Shia mosques, meeting houses and shrines have been destroyed or damaged,” Mr Tatchell added.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has condemned the brutal tactics of the Bahraini regime as “shocking and illegal conduct.”