Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP
10 Downing Street
28 November 2016
Dear Mrs May
We are appalled by your decision to traavel to Bahrain to meet with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council on the sidelines of the organisation’s upcoming summit in early December.
Not only does it show a glaring disregard for human rights but it sends a dangerous message of approval to the leaders of GCC regimes who continue to perpetrate human rights abuses against their own and other citizens.
It is especially ironic that by aattending you will choose to brush these abuses under the carpet at a time when the rest of the world will be preparing to mark World Human Rights Day on 10 December.
You will no doubt be aware of the situation in Bahrain where the al-Khalifa regime continues to ignore the conclusions of an international commission of inquiry set up in 2011 to investigate the Arab Spring uprisings of that year in which Shia mosques and holy places were razed, doctors and opposition leaders arrested and tortured and tens of protestors killed.
None of the Inquiry’s main recommendations which include judicial and legislative reforms ensuring fair trials, an end to torture, and criminal accountability for rights violators have been implemented. At the same time arbitrary detentions are continuing unabated with human rights and opposition leaders being regularly arrested for speaking out against the government and tortured in detention. Some have even been stripped of their citizenship in violation of domsetic and international law.
Moreover, the government has imposed an indefinite ban on all public demonstrations in the capital, Manama. Security forces regularly disperse unauthorised protests, which mostly occur in Shia villages when protesters demand the release of political prisoners, sometimes using excessive force including teargas and shotgun pellets.
In travelling to Bahrain you are effectively endorsing the al-Khalifa monarchy’s repression of its own people for nothing more than seeking to realise their fundamental human right to self-determination. You are also sending the message to other repressive regimes that Britain will not allow human right abuses to stand in the way of good relations with repressive regimes.
Your attendance of the GCC will also furnish another serial regional violator of human rights, Saudi Arabia, with legitimacy for its ongoing war in Yemen. In its determination to see a puppet-regime across the border a Saudi-led coalition continues to commit atrocities against Yemeni civilians.
It has hit hospitals and schools, destroyed bridges, power stations, poultry farms, a key seaport and factories that produce yogurt, tea, tissues, ceramics, soft drinks and potato chips. It has bombed weddings and a funeral – last October coalition warplanes targeted a funeral gathering for a Houthi leader in Sanaa killing 140 people and injuring 550 more.
The Saudi-led bombardment has exacerbated a humanitarian crisis in the Arab world’s poorest country, where cholera is spreading, millions of people are struggling to get enough food, and malnourished babies are overwhelming hospitals, according to the United Nations. Millions have been forced from their homes.
It is indeed an outrage that despite these widely documented atrocities committed by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, you, your ministers and your government continue to supply both regime with arms helping them wreak human rights abuses, death and destruction, and war crimes on a systematic basis.
In light of the above information we hope that you will reverse your decision to attend the GCC summit and review British policy vis a vis the Gulf states immediately with the intention of bringing it into line with your government’s much-touted “British values” and human rights imperatives.