Prince Charles urged to call for human rights on Middle East tour

By agency reporter
November 10, 2016

Since the collapse of peace talks, the Saudi-led coalition has intensified its devastating bombing campaign in Yemen. Campaigners have called on Prince Charles to publicly raise human rights concerns and condemn the ongoing repression in Oman, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain during his visit to the states in a tour which began on 5 November 2016. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will undertake over 50 engagements in seven days during their visit.

All three countries appear on the UK government’s list of ‘priority markets’ for arms exports, yet all three are ranked as ‘not free’ by Freedom House.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: "These visits send a message of political support to the regimes, providing them with positive images, symbolic support and a stamp of approval from the future King of the UK. They carry a strong propaganda value. They’re a sign of soft power and boost the dictatorships that are hosting him. These governments don’t just have appalling human rights records, they are also armed and supported by the UK.

Since the uprisings in the region in 2011, the UK has licensed large arms deals to all three countries. CAAT hopes the UK government will confirm that arms sales and military links will not be on the agenda for the visit.

  • Bahrain – the UK has licensed £51 million worth of arms since 2011
  • United Arab Emirates – the UK has licensed £541 million worth of arms since 2011
  • Oman – the UK has licensed almost £640 million worth of arms since 2011

One site that Charles will visit is the UK’s new naval base in Bahrain, a controversial £15 million project that has been paid for by the Bahraini government. It has been condemned by Bahraini human rights campaigners and was met with protests outside the UK embassy in Sitra, Bahrain.

Andrew  Smith continued: "Royalists and republicans may not always see eye-to-eye, but surely one thing everyone can agree on is that it’s totally inappropriate for the heir to the throne to use his influence to boost human rights abusers and dictatorships. If Prince Charles is concerned about the people living under repression then he must use his platform to speak up for them."

* Campaign agaqinst Arms Trade


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