Who's UK PM Special Envoy who Visited Bahrain? $2500 Monthly Salary from Saudi Arabia to Whitewash its Reputation in Parliament

2019-10-14 - 11:44 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): British Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief Rehman Chishti spent several days in Bahrain. The British envoy, of Pakistani origin, visited the Bahraini king, met the Foreign Affairs Minister, attended a meeting for the British Embassy and another one in obsequy congregation hall in Manama and gave a false testimony on the diversity environment and religious tolerance which he witnessed in the country. The Special Envoy announced "future cooperation [between both countries] on freedom of religion or belief at the international level."

Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, the Bahraini Ambassador to London, accompanied the envoy on most of his internal visits, including the one intended for the Al-Qasab obsequy. As things don't happen by chance, this companionship holds several meanings. There is an Arab proverb that says "don't ask about the person, but ask about his companion". The companion of the British special envoy is a rights violator in Bahrain, who is condemned by international organizations for his involvement in numerous cases of repression of journalists, athletes and free media outlets.

The truth is that Rehman Chishti is not better than his companion Fawaz Al Khalifa. He is the spokesman of Saudi Arabia in the British Parliament. His colleagues in parliament accuse him of representing Saudi interests and defending Riyadh Government crimes, particularly in relation to human rights violations in Yemen, in exchange for monthly fees.

In 2016, Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake sent a letter to Kathryn Hudson, the standards commissioner, in which he called her to investigate payments Chishti receives by a think-tank based in the Saudi capital, the King Faisal Center, in exchange for an advisory role at the center. According to the letter, he was receiving a monthly bonus of £2,000 (about $2,500) from the center.

Responding to the question, Chishti admitted and defended himself saying "providing advice to the center on its work on international relations covering Europe and the Middle East" and added that he spends 10 hours per month on the role, according to the Independent newspaper.

Brake commented: "It is clear that, as he registered his role with the center on the 24th February 2016, he knew at that point that he was going to receive payment from the center. Is it a breach of the code for a member to advocate for a foreign government closely linked to an NGO in the knowledge that, in just a few days, they will be receiving payment from that NGO?

Brake also questioned whether it was in the public interest for an MP to be receiving funding from an NGO that is closely linked to the Saudi government.

According to the British "The Times" newspaper, Chichti, who served on the Joint Committee on Human Rights between 2011 and 2014, made statements in the House of Commons advancing Saudi interests after he received a payment.

Chichti's visit to Manama did not go unnoticed by his citizens and so was his tireless attempts to clean up his file which is full of violations. In response to his tweet about the future cooperation with Bahrain on religious freedoms, a British citizen asked him, "What about human rights? Or even your own constituent's issues?"

"Good man yourself, glossing over their human rights abuses. Do you do it for free?" another tweeter commented. Meanwhile, one of the commenters advised him to use Google to take a look at UN statements on human rights violations in Bahrain. The investigative journalist Phil Miller asked "Hi Mr Chishti, whose paying for your trip to Bahrain this time? And how much?"

The attempts of Rehman Chichti, the son of a Pakistani religious imam from Muzaffarabad in Kashmir, who immigrated to the UK in 1978, to whitewash the damaged image of Bahrain don't seem to be successful. However, these attempts have become an occasion to open up his file on corruption and desperate defense of repressive regimes in the Middle East in exchange for money. Nonetheless, for a bankrupt country like Bahrain, its desperate officials are willing to hold onto a straw, so how is it if the straw is from the old British ally on which it has always relied on to clean up the crime scene! The crime of taking the rights of Bahraini citizens and suppressing their legitimate aspirations through security policies.

Arabic Version