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UK MPs call to exert pressure on Bahrain to release political prisoners

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in London, UK on 29 January 2020 [İlyas Tayfun Salcı/Anadolu Agency]
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in London, UK on 29 January 2020 [İlyas Tayfun Salcı/Anadolu Agency]

Last Wednesday, 14 members of British Parliament called on Foreign Minister Dominic Raab to exert pressure on the Bahraini government to release political prisoners ten years after their arrests, while criticising the British government's continued support for the Bahraini regime.

An urgent letter sent by Labour MP Zarah Sultana stated: "In a follow-up to my letter that I sent on 22 February, coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the arrest of leaders and activists of the revolution in Bahrain following their participation in pro-democracy demonstrations, we bring to your attention once again the issue of suppressing democracy and opposition leaders in Bahrain."

The letter indicated that ten years have passed since the arrests of Hassan Mushaima, Abdulwahab Hussain, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Abduljalil Al-Singace, Mohammed Habib Al-Miqdad, Abdujalil Al-Miqdad, Saeed Mirza Al-Nouri and Sheikh Ali Salman, on charges of communicating with foreign countries, incitement to murder and vandalising property.

The signatories to the letter, including former opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, stated that after a decade, Bahrain is still repressing the opposition. Yet, the British government continues to support the Bahraini regime.

The deputies called on their government to stop: "Blind support to violators of the rights of civil society activists for exerting their right to express their opinions, and help Bahrain restore a stable and reformist state with a decent human rights record."

The letter pressed for the immediate and unconditional release of the aforementioned political prisoners and opposition leaders, while demanding the UK to reconsider its relations with Bahrain.

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Last week, European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning human rights violations in Bahrain, after it was voted on by an overwhelming majority.

At the end of last year, British MPs urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to open an investigation into the visit of Home Secretary Priti Patel and UK Ambassador to Bahrain Roderick Drummond to the notorious Muharraq police station.

The opposition MPs affirmed that the visit of the interior minister to the torture site is concerning, especially as it comes at a time when Bahrain's human rights record is under close scrutiny.

The deputies explained that the minister's visit increases the risk of covering up human rights violations, while encouraging individuals and institutions to commit further abuses.

The deputies said that Patel was accompanied by the chief of Bahrain's police, who benefits from training funded by British taxpayers, and has significantly benefited from the growing culture of impunity in the country.

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