The British national newspaper, The Independent, reported that “despite years of crackdowns, torture and oppression in the Gulf state, the United Kingdom has drawn even closer to Bahrain,” referring to the fact that “British arms sales to Bahrain have increased significantly over the past five years, while in the background abuse claims have continued.”
“Between February 2011 and September 2015, the UK has done deals with Bahrain worth £45m, covering arms such as machine guns, assault rifles and anti-armour ammunition, according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) organisation. The total for the three years prior to the uprising was £6m,” highlighted the newspaper.
“As business boomed” between the two countries, “human rights violations boomed too”, the Independent further stated, adding that “the British government claimed it was helping to initiate reform in Bahrain by sending £2.1m in taxpayers’ money to a police watchdog, which has been accused of failing to investigate torture claims.”
Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrats’ Foreign Affairs spokesperson, recently asked Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood about the effectiveness of the programme in preventing the use of torture in Bahraini police stations and prisons. Mr Ellwood replied that the government of Bahrain “has previously committed to consider ratifying the optional protocol of the Convention Against Torture” which the UK “strongly” supports.
The Independent also stressed that on the fifth anniversary of the uprising in the island kingdom, activists in Britain held several events last week to remember victims of the brutal crackdown during the Arab Spring of 2011 that led to dozens of deaths and thousands of people being imprisoned.