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British arms trade and state oppression in Bahrain

Bahrain democracy | 12.07.2014 13:58 | Oxford | World

Raising awareness of British links with Bahrain oppression

British arms trade and state oppression in Bahrain

The Bahrain Human Rights Centre (BHRC) reports human rights abuses against minors in Bahrain, commited by security forces;

 http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/6948

'On 29 June 2014, the juvenile judge ordered for the detention of Hussain Mohamed Khalaf, 13 years old, for five days pending an investigation on charges of illegal gathering and rioting following his arrest on 26 June 2014. There were no protests in the area at time of his arrest. Khalaf’s family reported that he was beaten at Qudaibiya Police Station and was forced to confess to acts that he did not commit. His family has expressed fears for his health as he has meningitis, which has affected his head, and has previously undergone surgery in his back.

Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses grave concern about the Bahraini authorities’ ongoing targeting of minors less than 15 years of age as part of its ongoing crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain. The BCHR continues to document cases of arrest, detention, and physical assault on children below 15 years old by the security forces.

On 1 July 2014, 11 year-old Jehad Nabeel Al-Sameea had his detention extended again for eight days by the juvenile judge. Al-Sameea has been in detention since 22 May 2014 on charges of “physical assault of a policeman, damage to two police cars, illegal gathering, rioting, and possession of Molotov cocktails,” which are unreasonable given his small size and limited physical power. He is a fifth grade student and he has spent the school examination period in detention. Al-Sameea was banned from seeing his mother for 21 days after detention. He is not allowed to have phone calls with his family, and is only granted one visit a week. During a visit in mid June, Al-Sameea appeared pale, weak, and infected with ulcers. He told his mother that he did not like the prison food, but he is not allowed to receive food from outside.

On 12 June 2014, Al-Sameea had a hearing on a different case against him, in which he was charged with rioting, and the judge placed him under “judicial probation” for two years. During this period, a social supervisor will check on him every six months to report on his behavior.
In a different case, Ebrahim Ahmed Algaydom, 14 years old, was arrested from Sehla on 26 June 2014, and had his left arm broken due to the polices’ use of excessive force. He was transferred to the military hospital for treatment and was released on 29 June 2014.

It is important to note that while these children, and many more like them, are forced to spend months in detention without being convicted, security officers on trial for torture and extra-judicial killings are allowed to be out of detention and resume work duty while on trial. There has been no confirmed information that those convicted for torture and extra-judicial killings have spent any time in prison. No convicted security officers have been placed under “judicial probation” for any amount of time.

Minors below the age of 15 are not criminally responsible in the eyes of Bahraini law; however, the authorities often arrest them from protests and detain them for several weeks at a time. The BCHR has documented more than 70 cases of arrests of children since January 2014. While some of the children have been released, many more remain in detention.

The detention and ill-treatment of a child without an immediate and just cause, in the absence of a conviction of a crime, against his mental and physical well-being and interest as a student violates several articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 3 that "In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration." Article 37 continues, stating that "States Parties shall ensure that: (b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time."

The BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, the European Union and all close allies and international institutions to put pressure on Bahraini authorities to:

Immediately release Jihad Al-Sameea, Mohamed Mansoor, Hussain Khalaf and all children detained in Bahraini prisons, and provide appropriate psychological rehabilitation following their release;

End the culture of impunity which allows for daily violations against children;
Hold accountable all perpetrators of human rights violations against children in Bahrain;
As a signatory, respect, uphold, and implement the conditions of international treaties and conventions, including the International Convention for the Rights of the Child'

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) has complied useful reports about British arms trade agreements with the Bahrain government;

 http://www.caat.org.uk/resources/countries/bahrain/

'Bahrain is a major target for UK arms sales. This is despite the repressive nature of the Bahraini regime and its violent response to ongoing peaceful protests. The UK government is currently promoting the Eurofighter Typhoon to Bahrain. However, in its report, published on 22 November 2013, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said: “Both the government and the opposition in Bahrain view UK defence sales as a signal of British support for the government. The UK Government should take this into account when considering high-profile sales, such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, to Bahrain.”

This did not prevent the Government using Prince Andrew as part of its sales team during GREAT British Week,15-22 January 2014, and the third Bahrain International Air Show. The UK trade delegation also included Defence Secretary Philip Hammond MP, Adam Thomas from the UKTI Defence and Security Organisation and a number of major arms companies, including Rolls Royce (Aero) and BAE Systems, the latter promoting sales of its Typhoon fighter jets.

As Human Rights Watch stated on 1 August 2013, “Bahrain has spent the last two years cracking down on peaceful protest, violating people's rights from start to finish. Now it's planning a whole new set of draconian restrictions, effectively creating a new state of emergency, even while peaceful protesters from the last round are sitting in prison with long sentences.”

The repression has been assisted by Saudi Arabia, which, in March 2011, sent in UK-supplied armoured vehicles to safeguard infrastructure allowing the Bahraini forces to crackdown on protest. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague was told in advance that the Saudi troops would be going into Bahrain.'

The British government rightly condemns human rights abuses in Syria, and claims it supports democracy across the world. But Britain trades with Bahrain, and a government which oppresses its' own people with hardly a squeak from the British government. Obviously the British government wants to trade with the rest of the world, and retain some kind of influence in the middle-east, but supporting a government that oppresses free speech with weapons and equipment supplied by Britain is just double-standards. Even the Royal family is being recruited to promote weapon sales.

Contact your Member of parliament and request he ask the government suspend all trade relationships with Bahrain until this country conforms to international standards and cease oppressing democratic protest. Also contact your Members of the European Parliament, and ask them to discusses suspending diplomatic and trade relations with Bahrain unless it ceases oppressing its' people and denying freedom of expression.

You can contact your MP or MEPs through accessing the following website and entering your postcode; read the above articles and offer your own view

 https://www.writetothem.com/


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