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The Guardian: Bahrain is Buying Arms in London – and My Family is Paying the Price

2017-10-16 - 5:49 p

Bahrain Mirror: Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, director of advocacy at Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy in London, published an article in "The Guardian" newspaper in which he said that his family is paying the price while Bahrain is buying arms in London.

Al-Wadaei said that the giant Defence and Security Equipment International arms fair returns to the Excel centre in east London. Although, the protests have already started, he believes that if he takes part in them, his family will be targeted once again, just as what happened when he participated in a small street protest when King Hamad visited UK.

The human rights activist was arrested and then released. However, the Bahraini authorities arrested his wife and 18-year-old son in Bahrain International Airport, while they were about to board a plane back to Britain after a family. "Security proceeded to intimidate my wife in a seven-hour interrogation. I was referred to as an "animal", my wife was assaulted and it was made clear to her that she wouldn't be leaving the country and might face criminal charges," he said.

Al-Wadaie went on to say "My son is an American citizen and US diplomatic pressure combined with media coverage led to the authorities letting them out of the country a few days later." A week after this incident, Theresa May visited Bahrain and her visit focused solely on security and trade. Human rights were ignored.

"But my family is still far from safe. In March, my wife's mother, brother and cousin were all arrested. Again, the interrogation revolved around my activities in the UK. They were tortured into "confessing" their involvement in "planting fake bombs". It's a complete fabrication - I'm the real target. Unable to arrest me, they've targeted my extended family. I have relatives still in prison," he further stated.

Al-Wadaie's family is not the only one that feels betrayed by the UK silence. When Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was sentenced to two years in prison for giving media interviews, the USA, Germany, Norway, the EU, the UN - all deplored the sentence and called for his release. But the UK stayed quiet.

Amnesty International has recorded "disastrous decline" in human rights in the country over the past year. But no matter - the UK is invested in a story of a "reformist" Bahrain. Since 2012, the UK has spent more than £5m on public order training for Bahrain's security forces and on advice over supposed accountability institutions. The results are tragically perverse: Bahrain's abusers have been emboldened while the government-to-government contact has been presented by Manama's well-oiled PR machine as evidence of "reform".

Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei said "Five years ago, I fled Bahrain after being arrested, tortured and prosecuted for speaking to journalists during the Arab spring. My campaigning work on human rights and democracy are anathema to the Bahraini authorities and I've been stripped of my citizenship and rendered stateless. I expected smears and reprisals against myself, but not my family."

Arabic Version



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