Royal Windsor: Queen should not give PR-coup to Bahraini dictatorship

  • King Hamad of Bahrain to attend Royal Windsor Horse Show this weekend

  • The Bahraini regime has an appalling human rights record and has supported the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen

  • UK has licensed £82 million worth of arms to Bahrain since ‘Arab Spring’ uprising in February 2011

This Saturday activists will picket the Royal Windsor Horse Show in opposition to the attendance of the Bahraini regime. The Bahraini delegation is expected to be led by King Hamad, who is the figurehead of the dictatorship.

The Bahraini authorities have been widely accused of widespread torture and human rights abuses.

  • Human Rights Watch has described Bahrain’s record on human rights as “abysmal”. The use of torture remains widespread, and since 2012, over 600 people have been stripped of their citizenship.
  • The UN Committee Against Torture expressed their concerns over the use of torture to extract coerced confessions, and “the climate of impunity” that prevails among security forces in the country.
  • In May 2017, five people were killed by security forces after attending a peaceful sit in protest, including one 17 year old.
  • In March last year, Ali Mohamed Hakeem al-Arab reported that he was tortured throughout 26 days of interrogation, including by having his toenails pulled out, being subjected to electric shocks and beatings, and being forced to sign a “confession.”
  • 22 MPs have called for an investigation of Bahrain’s Prince Nasser for his alleged direct involvement in torturing dissidents in 2011.
  • BIRD lodged an OECD complaint against against the Horse Show organisers and its main sponsors LandRover and Rolex for inviting the King of Bahrain at the event, in in light of the country’s suppression of pro-democracy campaigners and human rights abuses.

Despite these abuses, the UK has continued to arm and support the regime. The UK has licensed £82 million worth of arms to the regime since the uprising in February 2011.

Sayed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy for the Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy said: “King Hamad is attending the Royal Windsor Horse Show to launder his image, which has been tarred by repressive human rights practices at home and abroad.

His attendance this year at the same time that repression has intensified highlights the clear hypocrisy of the current UK government, who continue to incentivise human rights abusers and reward them with a seat next to the Queen.”

Lucie Kinchin of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: This visit is a Royal Whitewash. The message it sends is that the Queen fully supports the Bahraini dictatorship.

However, the message it sends to those facing repression and torture at the hands of the Bahraini regime is that their rights are less important than political and military relations with a tyrant.

Enough is enough. It is long past time for the UK establishment to stop arming and supporting the Bahraini regime.

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