Bahrain dictatorship’s British allies

This video is called Rights group alleges torture in Bahrain 22-04-2011.

By Louisa Loveluck in Britain:

Bahrain’s citizens pay the price for Britain’s dealings with the kingdom

It suits the Bahrain regime and the British establishment to co-operate in a phoney reform process

Thursday 6 September 2012 10.00 BST

Last year, the Bahraini government praised the findings of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) into institutional failures that caused the death of 35 individuals between 14 February and 15 April 2011. It committed to the professionalisation of the police force and the introduction of greater accountability for those charged with torture. Ten months on, the BICI’s recommendations read as a hollow reminder that little progress has been made. On Tuesday, an announcement was made that the convictions of 20 prominent dissidents were being upheld, despite widespread condemnation over the politicised nature of the judicial process.

Practical attempts to address the most heinous allegations have been minimal. Instead, implementation efforts have been carefully orientated towards international allies, hiring western advisers to legitimise the reform process and send a message to the world that action is being taken. A number of prominent British establishment figures have risen to the occasion.

John Yates, the former Metropolitan police assistant commissioner, was hired last December to overhaul Bahrain’s police service in line with international human rights standards. Since then, he has become the de facto security spokesperson for the Bahrain government. In April, when the Bahrain Formula One grand prix took place against a backdrop of heated protest, Yates appeared across international news outlets defending the stuttering reform process and framing the unrest as “criminal acts” against “unarmed police”.

The few reforms announced to the public wither in the face of basic scrutiny. In April, Yates announced that he was hiring 500 community police officers to improve relations with the public. However, far from extending an olive branch to a suspicious citizenry, the police continue to make extensive use of teargas as well as shotguns in the name of crowd control.

So why was the commissioner hired, if not for his ability to implement genuine reforms? It’s possible the Bahraini government saw him as part of a package. Kristian Ulrichsen, a research fellow at the London School of Economics, told me that Yates was seen as a key to “the highest levels of government”, although British ministers insist there was no contact over Yates’s appointment, reports suggest he has since enjoyed an unprecedented degree of contact with British officials. In June, he accompanied interior minister Lt Gen Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa to diplomatic engagements in London, even meeting with junior Foreign Office minister Lord Howell.

A number of similarly well-connected British lawyers also travelled to Bahrain in April, this time advising on the BICI’s recommendations regarding accountability for torture. Among their number was Sir Daniel Bethlehem, a former Foreign Office legal adviser who returned to the bar for a brief period before assuming his new role. As with Yates, the involvement of Britons as advisers has resulted in few tangible changes. Despite extensive documentation of state-led human rights abuses, only five low-level personnel have been imprisoned, taking the rap for what the BICI called “systematic … mistreatment which … amounted to torture.” The gulf between Bahraini rhetoric surrounding the lawyers’ appointment and their practical achievements reinforces an impression that they too have been hired as the publicly acceptable face of a reform process that is going nowhere.

The British government has supplied the security forces of Bahrain with crowd control weapons and British advisers have been co-opted into the abortive reform process. But British involvement doesn’t there, our oldest institutions continue to train a steady stream of Bahraini nationals for active service. According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, this training comes at a high cost to the British state. Although it costs £78,000 to train a single recruit, Bahrain only pays £48,400 an individual. The Ministry of Defence has therefore subsidised Bahraini military training with at least £380,000 in the past three years alone.

From Al Bawaba:

Small businesses suffer as Bahraini landlords hike up rents

Published September 6th, 2012 – 11:31 GMT

Sudden rises in rent have caused a major setback for small businesses in Bahrain.

Business owners have expressed concern at the rental increases enforced by the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry, at the third consultative meeting between the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“We’ve been imposed a monthly rent since the beginning of the year by the ministry,” said Isa Ahmed Ali Khuzam, who owns a carpentry business in Arad.

“We’re asked to pay BD729 monthly now, unlike the last 25 years, when we paid a yearly rent,” he told the GDN,” he said.

“We cannot afford such an amount every month. We need to be billed annually.

“It has virtually brought our business to a standstill,” he added.

UK malware used against Bahraini activists: here.

Court in Bahrain Upholds Life Imprisonment for Democracy Advocates: here.

New York, September 6, 2012–Bahraini authorities should toss out the unjust conviction and life sentence handed to an online journalist who was imprisoned for exercising his right to free expression during the country’s 2011 popular uprising, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today: here.

Rights Activists Call on US to Revise Bahrain Policy: here.

6 thoughts on “Bahrain dictatorship’s British allies

  1. Great article – Britain has supported feudal Gulf states like Bahrain for decades as a bulwark against self-determination by the local peoples – it’s a part of the wider divide and conquer policy to keep the Middle East oil cheap and accessiblel to the UK


  2. Pingback: Bahrain dictatorship jails sick children | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Bahraini pro-democracy activists freed in London | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: How Britain helped Bahraini rulers oppress their subjects | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Dictatorships use German, British Internet spyware | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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