The case of Bahraini human rights activist, Moosa Abd-Ali, raises difficult questions about Britain’s cosy alliance with the Bahraini dictatorship.
On July 26th Abd-Ali was protesting on the roof of the Bahraini Embassy in London, before embassy staff grabbed hold of him, allegedly, beat him with a long stick and tried to push him off the roof.
Speaking to the London Guardian on August 7th, Abd-Ali spoke of his fears of becoming “a second Jamal Khashoggi, in London” as embassy staff resorted to extreme methods to stop his rooftop protest.
Referring to the embassy staffer who was apparently trying to kill him, Abd-Ali said: “I believed at the time he was trying to push me off the roof without anyone seeing that he had done this, so that it would look like I had fallen down by accident, or I had jumped off the roof”.
The embassy staffer, who according to Abd-Ali was armed with a makeshift weapon, reportedly told the human rights activist: “We have two people being executed in Bahrain and you will be the third”.
Meanwhile his accomplice reportedly told Abd-Ali no one would help him as he was on “Bahraini land”.
The alleged murder bid failed after the Metropolitan police and the fire brigade took the unusual step of forcing entry into the embassy.
But the fact that Bahraini embassy staff felt confident enough to not only beat a protestor but also allegedly to attempt to murder him, raises profound questions about Britain’s strong relationship with Bahrain’s sectarian dictatorship.
The strength of this relationship has clearly given Bahrain a feeling of impunity on British soil.
Britain is the leading provider of equipment and training to Bahrain’s repressive security forces.
The Times reported on February 5th 2017 that the Foreign Office was accused of trying to cover up its funding of a £1b programme to train the Bahraini police in crowd control techniques, including the use of water cannon and dogs.
According to the human rights group, Reprieve, under the same programe, known as the “conflict, stability and security fund”, British authorities trained Bahrain’s police on how to gather intelligence on protestors.
For his part, the human rights activist, Abd-Ali, has called on Britain’s new Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, to “expel the Bahrain ambassador; it is irrelevant whether this happened under his direction or this happened under his leadership. Otherwise Britain will be like a jungle that people could do whatever they want”.
But Abd-Ali’s pleas are likely to fall on deaf ears as Britain simply has too much to lose by distancing itself from the Bahraini dictatorship.