British government covering up Bahrain scandal


This video says about itself:

‘Night raids, torture, sham trials a daily reality in Bahrain’ – human rights activist

21 October 2013

In an Arab world swept away by revolutions and wars, few states have remained intact. And at what cost? Bahrain has seen protests, arrests and crackdowns on the opposition. Does stability necessarily mean political oppression in the Middle East? Why is Bahrain’s trouble off international media’s radar? We talk to human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja, daughter of Bahrain’s renowned dissident, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, who is now in jail.

From Reuters news agency:

Thu May 21, 2015 7:31pm BST

Classified document on Bahrain rankles Britain decades later

By Noah Browning

DUBAI – A legal battle between an activist group and Britain over a decades-old diplomatic cable on Bahrain has exposed a thorny link between the UK’s colonial past and its new military ambitions in a region it once dominated.

The Foreign Office has told a court in London that a censored assessment by a colonial officer of the Gulf Arab island’s ruling Al Khalifa family may harm the UK’s relationship with Bahrain as it seeks to build a naval base there.

The installation will be Britain’s first permanent military presence in the Middle East since it withdrew from Bahrain and the rest of the Gulf region in 1971.

The court ruled at the end of April that more of the document, which is based partly on secret evidence by a top British diplomat, should be exposed, and the Foreign Office has 30 days to appeal.

The two-page report is a 1977 record of a talk between a British official and Ian Henderson, a senior British security chief who advised Bahrain for decades after its independence.

“What surprised me in our conversation was the gloomy view he took of the ability of the Al Khalifa to survive,” the official wrote. The rest of the typewritten paragraph is heavily blacked out.

Marc Owen Jones, a PhD student who brought the case on behalf of UK-based activist group Bahrain Watch, told Reuters he believes the censored parts disparage a living member of the ruling family.

The passages were classified “on the grounds that international relations could be damaged were it to be released. Those grounds still exist,” Edward Oakden, the Foreign Office’s Middle East director, argued in the case.

Bahraini authorities did not respond to a request for comment.

Oakden noted an accord in December to put a long standing UK naval presence in Bahrain on a permanent footing at the Gulf state’s expense, and said disclosing more of the paper could also harm British efforts to reform Bahrain’s security forces.

BULWARK

The move is part of a modest expansion of British military readiness in the region. In 2013 the Royal Air Force established an air transport and refuelling hub in the United Arab Emirates.

Home to the United States’ Fifth Fleet, Bahrain is a strategic bulwark for Western interest in the energy-rich Gulf.

“Western countries seek good relations with Gulf States for defence reasons and also economic reasons,” said Jane Kinninmont, a Middle East expert at London’s Chatham House think tank. She cited rapidly increasing defence budgets in the Gulf that are partly earmarked to buy Western arms.

“The case shows how alive the history of British colonial rule still is in the Gulf today,” she added.

Britain first signed a treaty with the Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa family in Bahrain in 1820 and their relationship has remained strong for decades after the end of its protectorate.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa skipped a Gulf Arab summit with U.S. President Barack Obama last week and instead joined the Queen for a horse show and to discuss bilateral relations with her.

The kingdom has been buffeted by protests from its Shi’ite majority since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, which were put down with help from Saudi Arabia. But unrest within the Shi’ite community stretches back to Henderson’s mandate and before.

Bahrain has denied accusations of torture and political repression by human rights groups, saying it has implemented reforms and greater transparency for its security forces …

Ala’a Shehabi, co-founder of Bahrain Watch, said Britain was putting security interests above resolving historic wrongs in Bahrain, adding that the group will seek to declassify more of the country’s colonial archives on Bahrain.

(The story was refiled to correct typos in ‘respond’ in paragraph 9 and ‘of’ in paragraph 14)

(Editing by William Maclean and Mark Heinrich)

Bahraini Nabeel Rajab jailed for tweeting on regime-ISIS links


This video says about itself:

Jailed for a Tweet: Interview with Nabeel Rajab

21 October 2014

Nabeel Rajab is a human rights activist awaiting trial in Bahrain, one of the West’s favorite dictatorships. Three years after the Arab Spring, protests there are still being violently repressed, and Rajab now faces up to three years in jail — for a tweet. VICE News spoke to him a few weeks before his latest arrest.

Read more: Bahrain’s Human Rights Activist Faces Jail Time — for a Tweet.

From the International Business Times:

Bahrain upholds prison sentence for Nabeel Rajab over ‘IS defection’ tweet

By Gianluca Mezzofiore

May 14, 2015 10:00 BST

A Bahraini appeals court has upheld a six-month prison sentence for Bahrain’s human rights activist Nabeel Rajab over a tweet that alleged some of the Gulf Kingdom’s soldiers had defected to the Islamic State (Isis).

Rajab, who is president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) was freed in May 2014 after serving two years in prison for his role in the pro-democracy uprising. He was arrested again last October and charged with publicly “insulting a public institution” on the microblogging site.

The Bahraini Ministry of Interior said it summoned Rajab “to interview him regarding tweets posted on his Twitter account that denigrated government institutions”.

The tweets related to an article published on Global Voices about alleged Bahraini recruits to Islamic State who featured in a video threatening to overthrow the al-Khalifa regime which rules Bahrain. The activist commented:

many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator

The video included Lieutenant Mohamed Isa Al-Binali, who had defected from the army.

Rajab spoke to IBTimes UK in July 2014 about his time in prison and accused the British government of supporting the bloody al-Khalifa regime in the Gulf Kingdom despite daily human rights violations because of business interests.

He said that the Bahraini government “have bought the silence of the British government by increasing the business” since the start of the crackdown on peaceful protesters in 2011.

The arms trade has increased, the business between the UK government and Bahrain has increased after the crackdown over 30%,” he said. “That’s why you see not only silence in the British government but also harassment to human rights defenders and even to the people living in this country and who came seeking asylum from Bahrain.”

Rajab, one of several pro-democracy campaigners arrested in the regime’s clampdown, was considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

More about Nabeel Rajab

Bahrain: Index condemns decision upholding sentence of human rights activist. By Index on Censorship / 14 May, 2015: here.

Amnesty International criticized Thursday’s decision, saying it shows a “complete disregard for the right to freedom of expression”: here.

USA: On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 45 congressional leaders urged President Obama to push the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—to reform their human rights practices. Obama met with leaders in Washington on Wednesday and will meet with them at Camp David today: here.

Gulf human rights abuses in focus as Camp David summit tackles Iran fears. Bahrain confirms controversial prison sentence for Twitter dissident Nabeel Rajab as anxious Arab leaders meet Barack Obama: here.