This week Bahrain’s ruler, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa is expected to arrive in UK to attend the Royal Windsor Horse Show, as a guest to the Queen. Despite many calls from various quarters to cancel the invitation, it is unlikely that the invitation will be revoked. But the victims of his tyranny insist on exposing their predicaments at the hands of his henchmen who continue to commit heinous crimes against the natives of the country especially those calling for democratic transformation. The situation in Bahrain has taken turn to the worse under his rule to the extent that a short tweet criticizing his rule or the war on Yemen could lead to five years jail sentence. Nabeel Rajab, the renowned human rights activist and the President of the Bahrain Human Rights Centre, is serving five years jail sentence for openly criticizing the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen.
To embrace this blood-thirsty dictator runs against the grains of democracy, respect of human rights or the freedom of expression. As Alkhalifa sets foot on British soil, at least 4000 political prisoners will be calling for help with faint shouts from the dictator’s torture dungeons. Among them are scores of women known for their bravery and courage as they defied the ban on any political activism. Among the high ranking Bahraini figures languishing behind bars for demanding demoractiv transformation are Sheikh Ali Salaman, the Secretary General of AlWefaq Society, Mr Hassan Mushaima, Chairman of Haq Movement, Abdul Wahab Hussain, the head of AlWafaa movement and Abdul Hadi AlKhawaja, the founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. These people have served more than seven years of life sentences passed by military courts in 2011. It is outrageous to provide their jailer with red-carpet treatment. In an ideal situation, the royal guest would be detained on arrival and handed to the International Criminal Court for committing crimes against humanity.
The Bahraini community in UK is calling for the cancellation of Hamad’s visit in solidarity with his victims of state terrorism. Alternatively he could be apprehended as he sets foot at Heathrow and charged with human rights violations including torture, extra-judicial killings, destruction of the country’s religious heritage, mass arrests, disdain of the judicial process, plundering of the country’s wealth and deeply-enshrined hatred of real democracy. The corruption of the ruling Alkhalifa family has been widely documented by researchers and economic specialists. This corruption includes expropriation of vast areas of the public land, grabbing of the oil revenues, controlling the major government contracts and deals and imposing tariffs and taxes on the poor people. Hamad had committed two other crimes; ordered the destruction of up to 40 mosques in 2011 and signed the death penalty of three native Bahrainis. They were executed in January 2017 in what was termed: extra-judicial killing after the trial was described as “unfair” by international human rights bodies.
We commend those who have called for the cancellation of the UK visit by Bahrain’s dictator. We urge royal household and the government to withdraw the invitation. Journalists are also encouraged to investigate the vast property empire of Alkhalifa, including their UK assets. Finally we call for an overhaul of the political system in Bahrain and end the tribal grip on the country. We believe it is in the interest of the British people to challenge dictatorship, call for democratic transformation and challenge the political and ideological grounds on which Alkhalifa dictatorship emanates from in order to defeat extremism, sectarianism and terrorism.
Bahrain Opposition Bloc
London, 8th May 2018