Rights groups & MPs condemn UK Minister’s failure to raise serious human rights concerns as first visit to Bahrain coincides with prisoner’s 1 year hunger strike anniversary

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4 July 2022 – The Minister of State for Asia and the Middle East Amanda Milling MP has tweeted praising Bahrain’s “real progress” after visiting the country without making any announcement that this trip would be taking place. 

Amanda Milling congratulates Bahrain’s Minister of Justice and celebrates reforms to the justice system despite the fact that pro-democracy protesters remain at risk of imminent execution based on torture-induced ‘confessions’ and around 1,400 more political prisoners are behind bars, with the leaders of the pro-democracy movement serving life sentences in jail since 2011. 

Ms Milling’s tweets praising Bahrain make no mention of human rights whatsoever. These tweets come the same week as the high profile elderly political prisoner Dr Abduljalil AlSingace marks one year on hunger strike in protest at the confiscation of his handwritten notes. 

UK parliamentarians Lord Scriven, Wendy Chamberlain MP and death penalty NGO Reprieve posted on social media criticising the visit.

Summary of Amanda Milling’s meetings in Bahrain:

  • Amanda Milling, Minister of State for Asia and the Middle East, visited Bahrain on 3 July 2022, in what was her first visit to the country.
  • Throughout her visit, Milling emphasised that she had discussions around regional security, investment opportunities, security cooperations and economic ties.
  • Milling met with Bahrain Foreign Minister Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, the discussion was focused on regional security, new visa arrangements, COVID-19 recovery.
  • Met with  newly appointed Minister of Justice Nawaf Al Moawdah (former Chairman of the Ministry of Interior Ombudsman) in which she praised Bahrain’s widely condemned judicial system stating, Bahrain “has made real progress implementing reforms”.
  • Milling also met with Bahrain’s finance minister, to discuss the UK’s free trade agreement with the GCC.
  • Milling visited the UK’s naval facility in Bahrain. All meetings were accompanied by UK Ambassador to Bahrain Roderick Drummond

Failure to publicly raise urgent human rights cases:

  • Milling’s Twitter fails to make any mention of human rights concerns or make reference to cases being raised during her visit. 
  • Milling failed to meet with any opposition or independent civil society activities during her visit to Bahrain.
  • This week, high profile political prisoner, 60 year old human rights defender Dr Abduljalil AlSingace, will mark one year on hunger strike in protest at the confiscation of his handwritten notes. 
  • Opposition leader Hasan Mushaima, 74 years old, suffers from chronic medical condition and continues to suffer from deliberate medical negligence.
  • Human rights defenders, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, Najee Fateel and Ali Alhajee continue to languish behind bars. There are approximately 1400 political prisoners in Bahrain.
  • 26 individuals are on death row and at risk of imminent execution, among them are 11 who claimed to be tortured into providing confessions used to sentence them to death.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), commented:
Amanda’s visit is yet another blatant attempt by the UK government at whitewashing Bahrain’s appalling rights record. The failure to mention human rights concerns and the sycophantic praising of superficial reforms has become the norm of UK policy in Bahrain. While Amanda praises Bahrain’s facade of human rights reform, peaceful dissidents languish unlawfully behind bars, with Dr Abduljalil AlSingace now having spent almost a year on hunger strike simply to demand that his work be given to his family.

Take Action & Email Your MP to ask that they support the case of Dr Abduljalil AlSingace by signing EDM 107

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