7 March 2018 – An activist was arrested by the metropolitan police for throwing an egg at Mohamed bin Salman’s (MbS) convoy as he approached 10 Downing Street to meet Theresa May.
The activist was taken to Charing Cross Police Station. The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) spoke to two eyewitnesses who saw the arrested person throwing the egg.
The visit of MbS has triggered a huge police presence and provoked a large protest outside 10 Downing Street to condemn Theresa May’s decision to invite the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MbS) to visit the UK.
A second activist, was also arrested temporarily, the reasons for which remain unclear.
Sayed Alwadaei, Director of BIRD, said: “As the UK government rolls out the red carpet to welcome the Saudi Crown Prince, the architet of the war in Yemen, two activists have been arrested for daring to stand up against who they believe is a war criminal.”
Protest Against the Visit of the Saudi Crown Prince
A coalition of NGOs, including the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, the Stop the War Coalition and (BIRD), has been campaigning against MbS’ visit since news of it first came to light in December.
Lily Chamberlain, Research and Advocacy Associate at BIRD, delivered a powerful speech at the protest, during which she said: “Theresa May has a responsibility to stand up to a man who has led the region in his flagrant disrespect for human rights. A man who is content to continue a bombing campaign that murders innocent children, and who sentences innocent human rights defenders to execution. We are here today to tell Theresa May that war criminals are not welcome here, and never will be.”
— BIRD (@BirdBahrain_) March 7, 2018
A petition asking May to withdraw her invitation to the Crown Prince garnered almost 12,000 signatures from British residents and received an official response from the government. 39 Parliamentarians have signed Early Day Motion 865 regarding the ‘Proposed Visit of Saudi Crown Prince to the UK’.
The Saudi Crown Prince, who is commonly referred to as MbS, is visiting the UK between 7th and 10th March in order to engage in trade talks with the British government. Reportedly, deals worth more than $100bn are being considered by the parties during MbS’ visit. These deals are aimed at strengthening UK-Saudi cooperation in sectors such as security, technology and education.
Saudi Arabia’s Appalling Human Rights Track Record
MbS has been criticised for allowing a continuation of human rights abuses in his country. Amnesty International has stated that “the crackdown on members of the human rights community has continued unabated” during MbS’ tenure as Crown Prince.
Meanwhile, the bombing of Yemen by the Saudi-led military coalition has raged on under MbS’ leadership. Although it has been estimated that more than 10,000 civilians were been killed since the start of the war, the UK and US governments continue to sell arms to the regimes participating in the military coalition, including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
In addition to these atrocities, the Saudi Arabian regime has been criticised for exacerbating the human rights situation in Bahrain. In March 2011, Saudi Arabian forces entered Bahrain to crush pro-democracy protests.
Bahrain joined the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia that has caused the disastrous humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to 5 years in prison on 21 February 2018 for his comments on Twitter, where he criticised the war in Yemen and exposed the torture in Bahrain’s Jau Prison. One of Rajab’s charges was for “insulting a neighbouring country”, referring to Saudi Arabia, therefore further demonstrating the abusive results of the alliance between the Bahraini and Saudi regimes.
The UK Government has responded to the online petition, ‘Theresa May: Cancel the invitation for Saudi Crown Prince to visit the UK’. Instead of condemning the actions of Mohammed bin Salman in Yemen, which has led to a devastating humanitarian crisis, the British government has stated it “supports the Saudi-led Coalition’s military intervention”.
Campaigners have rebutted the British government’s defence.