After a Billion Pounds: British Government Detains Al-Wadaei, Raises Concerns Among Dissidents

2023-10-04 - 5:47 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): For the United Kingdom, the mission to bolster the position of Bahrain's ruling monarchy has become a quasi-exclusive endeavor bearing significant strategic advantages. This includes a complete reintegration into the Gulf region across security, military, political, and economic domains, with London seemingly acting as a contractor for governance projects.

On October 1, 2023, the King of Bahrain welcomed Lord Nicholas Lyons, the Mayor of the Financial District of the City of London, during his visit to the Kingdom. The meeting celebrated the longstanding friendship between the two nations, spanning over two centuries, and highlighted their ongoing cooperation in various financial, banking, economic, and investment sectors.

In a parallel context, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, in his meeting with the British Mayor at Gudaibiya Palace, emphasized "the mutual commitment of Bahrain and Britain to strengthen their bilateral relations." Subsequently, the British guest met with the Minister of Finance.

The Manama authorities consistently emphasize the significance of their strategic alliance with the United Kingdom. However, this relationship has come under criticism from both local and international human rights organizations. They contend that this alliance has perpetuated repression within the country and led to increased violations in prisons, with Britain being accused covering up repressive practices against the people by providing political support to the Bahraini government and conducting training programs for the Bahrain Police.

Back in early July, the Bahraini government signed a memorandum of understanding with Britain, committing to strategic investments in the UK amounting to 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion). The influence of financial considerations in politics was immediately apparent when the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office removed Bahrain from its list of priority countries for human rights, a decision seemingly driven solely by financial interests.

Recently, Bahraini human rights activist Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei disclosed on the X platform that he had been detained by British border forces at Gatwick airport upon his return from Geneva. Al-Wadaei, the director of the advocacy department at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), explained that he had attended the United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva to discuss human rights violations in Bahrain. Border forces handed him a document stating that he was "at risk of arrest," and he was eventually allowed into Britain after a two-and-a-half-hour detention, without any clear reasons provided for his arrest. The British authorities continue to impede Al-Wadaei's application for British citizenship, despite Bahrain having revoked his Bahraini citizenship in 2015, a situation faced by other dissidents as well.

The British government employs its influence to enhance the reputation of the Bahraini government and whitewash its human rights record in international forums. It also actively works to obstruct any successes of opposition political initiatives on the global stage.

Presently, there are over 300,000 political detainees in Bahraini prisons, hundreds of whom recently embarked on a 36-day hunger strike in a bid to secure humane conditions within the penitentiaries.

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