STATEMENTS

Royal Windsor Horse Show to adopt HR policy

UK scrutinized against on its Gulf Fund

Political and human rights activists are growing increasingly alarmed over the fate of three Bahraini prisoners who are suffering the consequences of being denied access to medical treatment. Prisoner of Conscience, Sadiq Abdullah Al Ghasra has not been heard of for nine months. He is held at the same wing where Sheikh Zuhair Ashoor has been held imprisoned since July 2013. The Sheikh’s family are extremely worried for his life since he was forcibly disappeared since last July. Visits by people including fathers of martyrs were made to the families of the disappeared native prisoners. Protests were also held to show support.

Native Bahraini political prisoners who have recently moved to main hospitals outside prisons have exhibited serious wounds in the legs and hands due to the use of chains to shackle them. The khalifis have been chaining prisoners of conscience as a means of humiliation and severe punishment for joining anti-regime protests in the past. It is equating peaceful expression with terrorism. To them, the word is more dangerous than the bombs. An inmate in Bahrain’s notorious Jaw Prison is reportedly being denied therapy for his diabetes. Fadel Abbas isn’t being given regular insulin shots, which caused a deterioration of his health and led to fear among members of his family that prison authorities are trying to ‘liquidate’ him.

Organisers of the UK’s largest outdoor horse show, whose most famous fan is the Queen, have agreed to adopt a human rights policy following accusations that the show is being used by the Bahraini royal family to distract from rights abuses. The khalifi dictatorial regime sponsors some events at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. Human rights campaigners have repeatedly raised concerns that sponsoring prestigious sporting events like this one which has strong UK royal associations is an act of “sportswashing” to conceal the country’s poor human rights record. A complaint made against the show’s organisers, HPower Group by campaigners to the Department for International Trade (DIT) known as National Contact Point, has finally been resolved by mediation after it was lodged in April 2018. The campaign group, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird), complained to National Contact Point, an independent body based within the DIT. They said that the organisers were not doing enough “to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts linked to their business operation” something that UKNCP said merited investigation. The organisation raised concerns after family members of three UK-based activists who protested at the 2017 show were detained by Bahraini security forces. Bird argues that inviting the Bahraini royal family sends the wrong signal about its human rights record. Bird says it will continue to campaign against the use by khalifis of sport to whitewash human rights abuses. In a statement issued by both parties, HPower committed to adopting a human rights policy which reflects the standards provided for by OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and reaffirmed “its commitment to respect internationally recognised human rights”.

Britain spent £2.4m over the last four years “to help Saudi Arabia’s military comply with international humanitarian law”  during which time the Gulf state has been accused of indiscriminately bombing and killing Yemeni civilians according to The Guardian today. The figures – obtained via parliamentary questions – are the first time the UK has detailed the amount spent via secretive funds to the kingdom, prompting a campaign group to say British taxpayers were backing the country’s military. James Cleverly, a Foreign Office minister, said last October that the UK funded British troops to help Saudi Arabia “protect its national security” and to “support the Saudi military’s compliance with international humanitarian law”.

Two months later, in response to a follow-up question from SNP MP Martyn Day, James Heappey a defence minster, revealed in a letter that the moneys involved amounted to £2.4m since 2016, including £550,000 in 2019-20. The campaign group which helped uncover the figures said the revelation embroiled the UK in “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis” where thousands of civilians have been killed since the civil war in Yemen began in March 2015, largely from indiscriminate bombing by a Saudi-led coalition, supplied by western arms makers. This revelation, believed to be only the tip of the iceberg is likely to mount pressure of UK government to stop supporting Saudi and khalifi dictators.

On 7th January a court session of Saudi scholar, Sheikh Hassan Farhan Al Malki was defended by his lawyers who refuted the baseless allegations against him. The persecutors continued their demand for his beheading and crucifixion. The next session has not yet been announced. Sheikh Al Malki has languished in Saudi jails more than three years for presenting historical views incompatible with the official version.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

13th January 2021 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

 

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