UK urges more arms sales to Bahrain as prince visits Counter Terror Expo

UK urges more arms sales to Bahrain as prince visits Counter Terror Expo

By agency reporter
6 May 2013

A British arms sales team from United Kingdom Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation(UKTI DSO) has been promoting weapons exports to Bahrain, even as the Gulf state cracked down on civilian protest.

A few days before, a son of the ruler, who is a senior commander in Bahrain's Royal Guard, toured Counter Terror Expo in London seeking the latest technologies to employ against democracy protesters.

UKTI DSO Head Richard Paniguian and British Defence Attache, Commodore Christopher Murray, met with the Bahrain Minister for Defence Affairs, Lieutenant General Dr. Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, in Manama on 29 April to discuss “bilateral military cooperation”. Over the five years 2008-12, the UK has licensed almost £13 million worth of weapons to Bahrain, including over £4 million worth of small arms, despite its dire human rights record and brutal suppression of protest.

On 25 April, Prince and Royal Guard Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, visited Counter Terror Expo 2013 in London. In an official statement he stressed the importance of “new technologies to contain the detrimental repercussions of terrorism.”

In 2012 a human rights group alleged that the prince was "personally engaged" in beating, flogging and kicking pro-democracy protestors in April 2011. Documentation describes how Sheikh Nasser, who is the president of the Bahrain Olympic Committee, launched "a punitive campaign to repress Bahraini athletes who had demonstrated their support [for] the peaceful pro-democracy movement." The prince denied the allegations. The UN Rapporteur on Torture has had a planned visit to Bahrain indefinitely postponed by the Bahrain government.

Kaye Stearman from CAAT said: "UK efforts to sell weapons to this abusive regime seem undimmed by events. First, a member of Bahrain's ruling family visits London to shop for the latest technologies to monitor and suppress citizens who want to exercise the basic human rights which the UK government says that it supports.

"A few days later the head of the UK government's arms sales unit flies to Manama to meet another member of this same ruling family to persuade them to buy even even more UK weaponry. In another few months the red carpet will be rolled out for a Bahrain delegation to visit the DSEI arms fair. We should stop selling Bahrain arms and should tell their ruling family they are not welcome in the UK."

[Ekk/4]

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