- Outside a ceremony hosted by the Bahraini Embassy at Lancaster House, London, to celebrate the National Day of Bahrain, Bob Stewart MP racially abused a Bahraini torture survivor who questioned him about his relationship with Bahrain’s dictatorship.
- In response, Stewart shouted: “Get stuffed. Bahrain’s a great place. End of.”, adding “Go away, I hate you” before subjecting Sayed Ahmed Alawadei to racist abuse ordering him to “Go back to Bahrain.” Soon after, he added: “now you shut up you stupid man.”
- Alwadaei, the director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), asked Bob Stewart as he was approaching Lancaster House, “Bob Stewart, for how much did you sell yourself to the Bahraini regime?”, adding “you were paid by them recently”, referring to a lavish trip to the country last month during sham elections where Bob exclaimed “God save the King of Bahrain” in a speech praising the country’s dictatorship. Stewart also claimed in a debate in the House of Commons this year that “Bahrain does not have political prisoners”.
- Alwadaei was injured by the Bahraini police in 2011 and subsequently imprisoned and tortured, and sentenced by a military court for taking part in a pro-democracy uprising in 2011.
- Alwadaei fled to the UK in 2012 and was granted political asylum by the UK Home Office, where he later co-founded the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) and continued to advocate for the respect of human rights in Bahrain, expose violations and work to hold perpetrators to account, particularly with regards to death penalty and political prisoners.
- In 2020, Alwadaei was the recipient of the Index on Censorship award for his advocacy in Bahrain.
- Alwadaei’s Bahraini citizenship was also revoked months after protesting against King Hamad’s presence at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2013, rendering him stateless in a blatant breach of international law and meaning he is unable to “go back to Bahrain”.
- A report published by the UN Secretary General in September 2022 on individuals subjected to reprisals as a result of engagement with UN bodies stated: “The cases of Mr. Sayed Ahmed Al- Wadaei and several of his relatives were included in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 reports of the Secretary-General on allegations of arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment, removal of citizenship and reprisals against family members for Mr. Al-Wadaei’s continuous engagement with the UN. Mr. Al-Wadaei.”
- A Bahrain news agency has published photos of Bob Stewart standing next to the Bahraini Ambassador to the UK and former PM Theresa May. Conversative Party Chairman, Nadhim Zahawi, was also at the event where he was an “honoured guest” and delivered a speech.
- Alwadaei has submitted a complaint to the Parliamentary Commission for Standards and the Chairman of the Conservative Party, Nadihm Zahawi, and is seeking legal advice to submit a complaint before the police.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) commented: “When I asked Bob Stewart about his links with Bahrain’s dictatorship, he told me “Bahrain’s a great place… I hate you … Go back to Bahrain” and said “now you shut up you stupid man”.
“I still have the scars from where the authorities kicked me in the head, and if I went back to Bahrain I would face further torture and imprisonment. My family members are still suffering from reprisals. My brother-in-law, Sayed Nizar Alwadaei, is languishing behind bars in Bahrain’s jail after harrowing torture, in what the UN has deemed to be a reprisal for my human rights activities, and went on to call for his release.”
“I don’t believe I would have been told to “go back” to the country that violently tortured me if it weren’t for the colour of my skin. No one should be subjected to racist abuse, particularly for holding an MP to account for accepting lavish gifts from one of the world’s most repressive regimes, and then acting as its mouthpiece by publicly denying its notorious and extensively documented human rights abuses which have been condemned by the United Nations.”
- On 3rd December, The Independent revealed that Bob Stewart MP: “who declared “God save the King of Bahrain” during a speech received at least £10,000 worth of hospitality and travel from the country’s rulers, The Independent has learnt. Bob Stewart, who has also spoken in defence of the regime in parliament, has been paid to travel to the country on multiple occasions, with thousands of pounds spent on him each time.”
- Last month, Bob Stewart MP visited Bahrain as part of a four day trip, which was paid for by the Government of Bahrain, according to the parliamentary record.
- Bob Stewart intervened in a House of Commons debate in January on political prisoners in Bahrain stating: “I have very close contacts with Bahrain, and it would dispute those figures for the number of people utterly and completely. Bahrain does not have political prisoners; they are all prisoners who are there because they have committed a crime.”
Recent joint work of BIRD with Human Rights Watch and Reprieve:
- An October 2022 report by BIRD and Human Rights Watch found serious and persistent human rights violations underlying the convictions and death sentences of cases of eight men, including pro-democracy protesters Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa who are currently at risk of imminent execution.
- The report documents a litany of shocking human rights abuses including manifestly unfair trials and the use of torture such as electric shocks to the chest and genitals, sleep deprivation, beatings, and attempted rape, to coerce confessions from the eight death row inmates;
- Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Interior Ombudsman and Special Investigations Unit are all beneficiaries of the UK government’s taxpayer-funded Gulf Strategy Fund, named in the report as being implicated in these abuses;
- The Telegraph reported the UK government may have “broken its own rules by allegedly not properly assessing its financial support to Bahrain’s judicial system […] that would be a breach of the UK’s own guidelines” and that “the FCDO would not say” whether it had received assurances from Bahrain as its policy requires it to do.
- In July 2021, BIRD and Reprieve published a report that found a significant escalation in the use of the death sentences in Bahrain since the Arab Spring protests, with death sentences rising by over 600%.