Bahrain: Torture intensifies as West supplies more arms

Bahrain has been in the throes of revolution for two years

The opposition Bahrain Freedom Movement says that the human rights situation in the Gulf country is worsening…

Disturbing news from Dry Dock prison in Manama has confirmed that human rights defender, Naji Fateel, has been subjected to horrific torture. Mr Fateel was arrested on 2nd May during a dawn raid on his house. He was taken to various torture chambers and subjected to horrific treatment. He was forced to remain standing on his feet for two and a half days, hung from his hands and feet, beaten on his toes and electrocuted on his sensitive parts. This is in addition to most degrading verbal and psychological abuses.

He was forced to sign false “confessions” and denied access to a lawyer. Repeated requests by his lawyer, Ali Al Mahdi, to see him were met with systematic denial that Mr Fateel was in detention.  He had been detained several times before and is now languishing behind bars with other prominent human rights defenders – Nabeel Rajab, Zainab Al Khawaja, her father Abdul Hadi and Dr Abdul Jalil Al Singace.

The detention and torture of Mr Fateel was the beginning of a new wave of terror being waged by the regime which has lost popular and constitutional legitimacy. Many others have been arrested in the past two weeks while their families have confirmed their ill-treatment. Many others have been given lengthy jail sentences for participating in anti-regime protests.

Western collusion

This latest flare-up of arrests and abuses follows the cancellation of the visit by Juan Mendez, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, scheduled for 9th May. Human rights bodies have been dumbfounded by the lack of proper response from the two main protectors of the Al Khalifa regime in Washington and London. The cancellation of the visit is nothing short of admission by Bahrain’s dictator that not only had he sanctioned torture but that allows it to be used as a weapon of revenge against his opponents.

While the Al Khalifa rulers have sanctioned the American envoy in Manama for his remarks about the situation, the British government has continued weapons supply to Bahrain despite the calls to observe a moratorium on arms sales to Al Khalifa. 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.

Kaye Stearman from Campaign Against the Arms Trade 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.”

This article was reproduced with the permission of the Bahrain Freedom Movement

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