Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Business as usual in bloody Bahrain

It's no surprise the Countess of Wessex accepted jewellery from the Bahraini royal family: Britain has been its backbone for years

Ala'a Shehabi and Kristian Ulrichsen, Wednesday 11 January 2012

"News that the Countess of Wessex accepted gifts of jewellery from Bahrain's royal family is not surprising. After almost 200 years of British-supported rule by the House of Khalifa, Bahrainis are no closer to human rights or democracy. Meanwhile, British firms continue to profit from the ongoing crackdown, as the British government seemingly turns a blind eye to continuing abuses.

Prince Charles rolled out the red carpet for the Sandhurst-trained king of Bahrain in December, soon followed by Prince Edward's visit to Bahrain with his wife, the Countess of Wessex......

Bahrainis are not calling for a Libya-style military intervention by Britain (nor by the United States, Iran or Saudi Arabia for that matter). Instead, they are asking the British government to uphold the values it claims to support, rather than upholding authoritarian rule. It should explicitly encourage democratic transition in the country rather than providing the Bahraini regime with with the moral and physical military support through arms and security training to violently suppress overwhelmingly peaceful protests. It is not in Britain's interest to stand against the tide of the Arab uprisings.

Bahrainis see Britain as complicit in the crackdown by not doing enough to influence the ruling family to change its ways. It might be business as usual for the British government, but for Bahrainis facing the brutality of western-armed and trained police, it certainly is not. The Countess of Wessex may enjoy her diamonds, but they represent the blood and tears of a people who rose up in the Arab spring – only to be forsaken."

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