Bahraini and British activists highlighted Britain’s continued support for authoritarian regimes in the Gulf states, including Bahrain.
This came during their participation in an electronic seminar organized by the European Center for Democracy and Human Rights, with the passage of 50 years since Britain’s withdrawal from the Gulf states.
Bahraini political activist Saeed Al-Shihabi recalled the events of Britain’s entry into the Gulf region and its exit after 150 years.
He said: “Although Britain had a positive impact in the Gulf, such as improving institutions and the foreign language, it had a negative impact on the regime, and it became harsh and undemocratic, when the people hoped to obtain democracy and participate in drafting a constitution in Bahrain.
In 1975, the articles of the constitution that preserved democracy were abolished, the National Assembly was referred, and a 25-year repression took place.
Regarding one of the features of the influence of British colonialism, Al Shehabi mentioned Ian Henderson, who came to Bahrain in 1966 and established a team whose role was to protect the ruling family. After Henderson’s appointment, a number of Bahrainis were arrested.
Al-Shihabi stressed that after 50 years, many of the problems and conflicts that Britain left have not improved and have not been resolved.
He called on Britain to play a role as a result of its history in Bahrain and its relationship with the current authority and not to protect its allies who kill people and violate human rights, and refuse to deal with the United Nations, and it must also support political prisoners who demanded democracy.
In turn, the Executive Director of “Free Tibet” and “Tibet Watch”, Sam Walton, explained that the United Kingdom receives representatives from Bahrain and sends representatives from the Kingdom to Bahrain, although they claim to discuss human rights issues in their meetings, but in fact they are discussing arms deals .
And he continues: “Bahrain is on the UK Parliament’s list of countries that must improve the human rights situation, but it is also on Parliament’s list as a priority market for British arms sales.
In the past three years, the kingdom sold to Bahrain the equivalent of 37 million pounds in fixed deals and more in terms of open-term licenses, he added.
He explained that in the last decade, an average of 20 Bahraini officials were trained in British institutions, and we also see a Bahraini presence in British arms forums, and there are British professors from the University of Huddersfield who receive large amounts of money to use the Royal Bahrain Academy as a campus for training the Bahraini police.
Walton pointed out that the racist British Home Office, which does not accept asylum applications in many cases, has accepted Bahraini asylum applications who were subjected to the worst forms of torture in this building, and therefore MPs, professors and students at the University of Huddersfield are protesting against this cooperation.
Walton stressed that the United Kingdom bears responsibility for what is happening in Bahrain for 50 years now, and this is represented by the opening of the British naval base again in 2018, and this is clear colonialism. The United Kingdom failed to be a positive force, but rather participated in whitewashing violations and arming a repressive regime such as Bahrain, which is one of the worst regimes for human rights in the world, and the most corrupt and tyrannical.
The legal assistant at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy BIRD, Josie Tham, discussed a report entitled “The Price of Repression – Secret Government Funding and Human Rights Violations in the Gulf,” which is the first study of the effects of secret British funding to the Gulf states.
She said that the report found that the government misled the ways of using these funds and ignored the role of these funds in the continuation of human rights violations, and this puts the UK at risk of participating in serious violations of international law, including laundering violations against young people and those sentenced to death in Bahrain and Saudi war crimes in Yemen .
The report concludes that the Gulf Strategic Fund must be suspended immediately and an independent investigation conducted.
In turn, British activist Stephen Bell said that the United Kingdom is returning to the Gulf through the return of military bases in the region, in order to align British policy with the US anti-Chinese policy.
He added that it supports dictatorship to obtain stability as the democracy of the Gulf people leads to unexpected results for it, stressing that the United Kingdom has not learned from its history and history repeats itself through the oppression of peoples and the failure to support democracy.