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Back Activities Alerts Alert: Bahrain/UK: Business event set to promote trade links with Bahrain at ICC

Alert: Bahrain/UK: Business event set to promote trade links with Bahrain at ICC

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Bahrain

Lord Digby Jones sponsors trade fair which legitimises Bahraini bloodshed.

Contents
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Sample letter

1. Summary

A business event hosted by the Midlands World Trade Forum (MWTF) 12 October is set to promote trade links with the Bahraini regime at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Birmingham, UK. Write to the organisers and sponsors of the fare, urging them to reconsider hosting an event that will further lend legitimacy to the regime’s brutal suppression of dissent and human rights in Bahrain.

2. Background

One of Birmingham’s best known business figures, former British Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Digby Jones, is one of the keynote speakers at an event in the city to promote trade links with Bahrain.  The event - on 12 October at the ICC - has been organised by the MWTF and is aimed at boosting trade links between the Middle Eastern country and the UK.

Bahrain, which borders oil giant Saudi Arabia, is a modern country and has quick and convenient access to all of the key markets in the Middle East, by road, air or sea. The event is being backed by the Bahrain Economic Development Board, whose chief executive, Sheikh Mohammed bin Issa al-Khalifa, will also address the meeting.

Britain’s current financial backing of the Bahraini regime is worrying, and we cannot let its patronage be further consolidated at trade fares such as these. We must be aware, and let others know, that supporting trade links with Bahrain is tantamount to funding the bullets, teargas and prison cells used to stifle its people’s desire for freedom.

3. Action Required

Write to Lord Digby Jones, the ICC, and the MWTF respectfully asking them not to participate in the event until the Bahraini regime ceases to slaughter its people. Campaigners are welcome to use their own writings in their letters, or use the sample letter provided below.

4. Sample letter
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A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.

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a)    Lorraine Ellison MBE, representative of Lord Digby Jones (email: lorraine@digbylordjones.com)

[Your name]
[Your address]

Dear Ms. Ellison,

It is with great concern that I heard that the Lord Digby Jones is planning on speaking at an event organised by the Midlands World Trade Forum promoting trade links between Bahrain and the United Kingdom. I respect Lord Digby Jones for the work that he does on promoting Britain as a business destination and particularly for the work that he has done in encouraging entrepreneurship within our great country. However, I am writing to advise you that if Lord Digby Jones does actually speak at this conference, it will harm the credibility of his work on promoting socially inclusive wealth creation as Bahrain is a country that is by its nature not socially inclusive.

I am sure that you are aware that the Bahraini government has committed numerous crimes against its own people including but not limited to torture, unjust imprisonment and unfair dismissal from work. By hosting such an event on your premises, you will be tacitly supporting the actions of a regime that Amnesty International has described as follows:

“Scores of anti-government activists were arrested. Twenty-five leading opposition activists were on trial, two in their absence, accused of plotting to overthrow the government; the 23 were initially denied access to lawyers after their arrest and some said they were tortured. Other unfair trials took place. The authorities restricted freedom of expression, including by shutting down several websites and political newsletters. The government suspended board members of an independent human rights organization. One person was executed.” (Source: Amnesty International's Annual Report (2011) on Bahrain)

I urge you therefore to reconsider whether speaking at this event is in Lord Digby Jones's best interest.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature]
[Your name]

b) The ICC. (email: info@theicc.co.uk)


[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

To whom it may concern,

Re: Promoting trade links with the human rights violating Bahraini regime

It is with great concern that I heard that the ICC is planning on hosting an event organised by the Midlands World Trade Forum promoting trade links between Bahrain and the United Kingdom. I am writing to advise you that should this event be held at the ICC, it will do harm to the reputation of such a world class conference venue.

I am sure that you are aware that the Bahraini government has committed numerous crimes against its own people including but not limited to torture, unjust imprisonment and unfair dismissal from work. By hosting such an event on your premises, you will be tacitly supporting the actions of a regime that Amnesty International has described as follows:

“Scores of anti-government activists were arrested. Twenty-five leading opposition activists were on trial, two in their absence, accused of plotting to overthrow the government; the 23 were initially denied access to lawyers after their arrest and some said they were tortured. Other unfair trials took place. The authorities restricted freedom of expression, including by shutting down several websites and political newsletters. The government suspended board members of an independent human rights organization. One person was executed.” (Source: Amnesty International's Annual Report (2011) on Bahrain)

I urge you therefore to reconsider whether hosting such an event will be in your company's best interest.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature]
[Your name]

c)     Midlands World Trade Forum (MWTF) (email: g.poletti@mwtf.org.uk, info@mwtf.org.uk

To whom it may concern,

It is with great concern that I heard that the Midlands World Trade Forum is organising an event promoting trade links between Bahrain and the United Kingdom. Whilst it is important for our country and our region to encourage exports of our manufactured products, it is equally important to stress the importance of ethical trading.

I am sure that you are aware that the Bahraini government has committed numerous crimes against its own people including but not limited to torture, unjust imprisonment and unfair dismissal from work. By hosting such an event on your premises, you will be tacitly supporting the actions of a regime that Amnesty International has described as follows:

“Scores of anti-government activists were arrested. Twenty-five leading opposition activists were on trial, two in their absence, accused of plotting to overthrow the government; the 23 were initially denied access to lawyers after their arrest and some said they were tortured. Other unfair trials took place. The authorities restricted freedom of expression, including by shutting down several websites and political newsletters. The government suspended board members of an independent human rights organization. One person was executed.” (Source: Amnesty International's Annual Report (2011) on Bahrain)

I urge you therefore to reconsider whether organising such an event is in the best interests of our local businesses.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature]
[Your name]

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