Royal Horse Show Agrees to Adopt Human Rights Policy
2021-01-14 - 5:37 am
Bahrain Mirror: "Organizers of the UK's largest outdoor horse show, whose most famous fan is the Queen, have agreed to adopt a human rights policy following accusations that the show is being used by the Bahraini royal family to distract from rights abuses," the Guardian newspaper stated.
Human rights campaigners, including Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, have repeatedly raised concerns that sponsoring prestigious sporting events like this one which has strong UK royal associations is an act of "sportswashing" to conceal the country's poor human rights record.
The organization raised concerns after family members of three UK-based activists who protested at the 2017 show were detained by Bahraini security forces.
Although Bird welcomed the agreement of HPower Group to put a human rights policy in place for the high profile horse show it argues that inviting the Bahraini royal family sends the wrong signal about its human rights record. Bird says it will continue to campaign against what it claims is Bahrain's use of sport to whitewash human rights abuses.
Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, director of Bird, said: "We presented the UK government with ample evidence of the human rights implications of King Hamad's presence at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, which in previous years included the detention of family members of Bahrainis protesting at the show. While HPower will adopt a human rights policy, Bird maintains that Bahrain's investments in international sport are designed to launder the kingdom's appalling human rights record and we will continue to raise concerns whenever the red carpet is rolled out for Bahraini royals in the UK."
Protests against the Royal Windsor Horse Show have grown in recent years over the invitation of the Bahraini monarch, King Hamad, who regularly sponsored a prestige event at the show and has often been photographed with the Queen in the Royal Box.
Freedom House describes Bahrain as "among the most repressive in the Middle East". According to Human Rights Watch, Bahrain's human rights record has worsened in recent years following a more than tenfold rise in executions since 2017.