Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has called for Prince Andrew to speak out against the government repression taking place in Bahrain and has renewed calls for the UK government to cease all arms exports to the oppressive Bahraini regime.
The call comes as Prince Andrew heads to Bahrain to join the government in celebrating GREAT British Week at the Bahrain International Circuit. GREAT British Week will run from 15 — 22 January in conjunction with the third Bahrain International Air Show. Organisers say that the events are to mark the ‘200 years of friendship between the UK and Bahrain’ and will be attended by a 250 strong British trade delegation; including Prince Andrew, representatives from the UK government and a number of major arms companies, including Rolls Royce (Aero) and BAE Systems, who will be promoting sales of its Typhoon fighter jets.
The event follows the suspension of national reconciliation talks in Bahrain and the Stop The Shipment campaign, which succeeded in stopping a huge shipment of South Korean tear gas canisters to Bahrain. Following a high profile, multimedia campaign DAPA, South Korea’s arms export licensing agency, announced that due to political instability and pressure from international rights groups they will cease all tear gas exports to the Bahraini dictatorship.
Andrew Smith, spokesperson for CAAT said: “We are calling on Prince Andrew and the UK government to stop selling arms to Bahrain. By endorsing the Bahraini dictatorship Prince Andrew is giving his implicit support to their oppressive practices.
When our government sells arms it is giving moral and practical support to an illegitimate and authoritarian regime and directly supporting their systematic crackdown on opposition groups. We believe that GREAT British Week is a sham and we shouldn’t allow our international image to be used as a PR tool for the violent and oppressive dictatorship in Bahrain.”
Since the Arab Spring began in 2011, the UK government has approved over £30 million worth of arms export licences to Bahrain; including assault rifles, pistols and naval guns. In its recent report the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said: “Both the government and the opposition in Bahrain view UK defence sales as a signal of British support for the government.”