07 August 2019 – New evidence obtained by BIRD has emerged implicating Bahraini Embassy staff in the assault of a protester who had scaled the building on the eve of the execution of two torture victims in Bahrain.
A few hours after the assault, the two men, Ali AlArab and Ahmad AlMalali, were executed by firing squad, in what Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, described as “arbitrary killings.”
The new evidence includes a full testimony from the assault victim, Moosa Mohammad. Moosa alleges that:
- Embassy staff attempted to push him from the rooftop using a piece of timber.
- Embassy staff beat him repeatedly with said piece of timber, while stating that the protester would be “the third” execution to take place that day.
- Embassy staff attempted to suffocate him with a t-shirt soaked in water.
- Embassy staff took measures to conceal their identities during the attack.
It is not the first time that Moosa has been targeted by the Bahraini authorities. When he was 14, Moosa was arrested and tortured by the regime. In 2014, it was revealed that Moosa had been targeted by a Bahraini spyware operation while living in the UK.
Other evidence that has emerged today includes:
- Excerpts from Moosa’s medical report revealing the extent of his injuries.
- Video evidence showing an embassy staffer beating Moosa while attempting to avoid identification.
- Video evidence of police officers and firefighters forcing entry to the embassy and storming the building.
The new evidence directly contradicts the Bahraini Embassy in London’s statement which was published on 27 July, which asserted that Moosa “was threatening to jump off the roof and Embassy staff stepped in to restrain him for his own safety.”
Moosa Mohammed, the victim of the assault, commented: “When I heard that two men were facing execution amid allegations of torture and coerced confessions, I knew that I had to act. I was immediately reminded of my own traumatic experiences at the hands of Bahraini security services, and felt a duty to do everything I could to try to save their lives. As the situation appeared increasingly hopeless, I decided to make a last-ditch attempt by protesting from the roof of the Bahrain’s embassy in Belgrave Square.
After gaining access to the roof, I unrolled a banner calling on Boris Johnson to intervene and waved my t-shirt over my head to attract attention. As I chanted “stop executions in Bahrain”, I saw police arriving below, but they appeared relaxed and the weather was fine, so I felt safe.
The atmosphere changed when three embassy staffers appeared on the rooftop. One of them was brandishing a metre-long piece of wood over his shoulder like a baseball bat. Crouching so as to remain invisible to officers below, this staffer beat me with the weapon, pushing me towards the edge. He told me that “we have 2 people being executed in Bahrain and you will be the third”. I was frightened for my life.
My cries for help alerted the police officers, who shouted for the staffers to return to the embassy. The staffers responded by dragging me from the ledge towards the stairwell by my legs. While one of them pinned his knee against the back of my neck, another soaked my t-shirt in a puddle and held it over my face, attempting to suffocate me. If the police had not forced entry to the building, I truly believe they would have killed me.”
Sayed Ahmed Alwadei, Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy (BIRD) commented: “Had the police not forced entry to the building and interrupted the assault, it is possible Moosa would have met a similar fate to the late Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The embassy staff put Moosa’s life in serious danger. Less than a year after Khashoggi’s murder, Britain’s Gulf allies have faced no serious consequences and this brazen attack in the heart of central London displays their shameless disregard for international law and human life.
The UK government has spent millions of pounds of taxpayer money providing training to Bahrain’s violent police force. However, the oppression in Bahrain is only getting worse, with more violence and more executions. It is time for the UK government to end its complicity.
Despite the abuses that have been inflicted, the UK Government has continued to arm and support the Bahraini dictatorship. Government figures, analysed by Campaign Against Arms Trade show that since the uprising in Bahrain began in February 2011, the UK has licensed £104 million worth of arms to the Bahraini regime.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “Regardless of the abuses and atrocities it has inflicted, the Bahraini regime has been able to rely on the unwavering and uncritical political and military support of the UK Government. This support has only helped to strengthen and empower the dictatorship.
If Boris Johnson and his colleagues care for the rights of Bahraini people like Moosa, then they must condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms and take action against the Ambassador and his staff. The UK Government must stop the arms sales and end their complicity in the repression of Bahraini people.”
The Bahraini Embassy in London responded to Channel 4 and published a statement on Twitter commending their staff’s “professionalism and courage” in their behaviour towards Moosa.
Notes for editors:
Channel 4 has featured video footage from the incident during their lead story this evening. If any editors are interested in purchasing the footage, additional photographs from the incident or any other evidence listed in this presser, please do not hesitate to contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.