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HUMAN rights campaigners branded the Queen’s invitation for the Bahraini dictator to the annual Royal Windsor Horse Show a “moral disgrace” yesterday.
Bahrain’s absolute ruler King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa arrived into Britain on Thursday at the behest of the Queen to attend Britain’s largest outdoor horse show despite warnings that his regime has intensified its already brutal human rights abuses.
Director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird) Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, who has family members jailed in the country for speaking out against the absolute monarchy, described the situation as shameful.
“The Bahraini regime continues to jail and torture human rights defenders and journalists.
“The UK government continues to look the other way and cover up Bahrain’s appalling rights record by investing in arms sales and a new naval base in return.
“This toxic relationship must come to an end.”
Campaign Against Arms Trade’s Andrew Smith said: “This visit is a moral disgrace. It offers a major international stage to a dictatorship that has a long history of repression.
“The UK government has made itself complicit in the abuses by arming and supporting the Bahraini authorities, regardless of the consequences.
“The UK should be standing with the human rights campaigners calling for change, not with the regime which is denying basic rights.”
Son of jailed opposition leader Ali Mushaima, who went on hunger strike for 46 days outside the kingdom’s London embassy last year, posted a picture of himself on Twitter standing next to a banner which read: “While the king’s horses are pampered for the show, my imprisoned father is refused medical care in Bahrain.”
Mushaima said in his tweet: “Today, I resumed my protest to save my 71-year-old father #FreeHassanMushaima, who is still denied medical care.
Human Rights Watch says Bahraini courts “have stripped the citizenship of hundreds of citizens and deported dozens of them, including dissidents, journalists, and lawyers as punishments for offences that, in reality, include peaceful criticism of the government.
“Police forces and officers at the National Security Agency ill-treat, threaten, and coerce alleged suspects into signing confessions.”
Despite the high profile of its client state’s human rights abuses, Britain has licensed over £100 million worth of arms to the Bahraini authorities since 201 and staged several training exercises with its military.
On Tuesday campaigners called on the international community to prevent Bahrain from executing Ali al-Arab and Ahmed al-Malali, who were sentenced to death on the first day of Ramadan this year.
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