Prince Charles urged to highlight cases of Bahraini activists

Prince Charles urged to highlight cases of Bahraini activists
The UK's future king will visit Bahrain on Tuesday, and Amnesty International wants Prince Charles to bring up the Gulf state's questionable human rights abuses with the country's ruler.
3 min read
07 November, 2016
Prince Charles began his tour in the Sultanate of Oman [Getty]
Amnesty International has urged UK royal Prince Charles to highlight the cause of jailed Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab, during a meeting with the island's ruler King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa this week.

The human rights groups said that the Prince of Wales should use the opportunity of his visit the Bahraini leadership on Tuesday to bring up Rajab's case following the recent postponement of his verdict.

He should also confront the ruler on the wider issue of freedom of speech in kingdom, the group said.

"We're not expecting Prince Charles to reinvent himself as a human rights campaigner on this trip, but we hope he'll use some of his time to speak about universal values like free speech and open debate," said Allan Hogarth, Amnesty International UK's head of policy and government affairs.

"In particular when Prince Charles meets Bahrain's King Hamad we'd like him to raise the plight of Nabeel Rajab [who faces a] lengthy prison sentence for his online remarks about the torture of detainees in one of Bahrain's jails as well as the country's role in the conflict in Yemen."

Bahrain has been criticised for its clampdown on critics with hundreds detained or killed during a wave of arrests by authorities.

Among those swooped up is Rajab, one of the most high-profile members of the opposition after a series of critical tweets.

Photos: Royals tour the Middle East

The country's main opposition group the al-Wefaq Party has also been banned by authorities, giving Bahrainis even fewer political freedoms.

Meanwhile, the government continues to take a hard-line approach in dealing with protests in the Shia-majority kingdom.

"[Prince Charles'] short visit isn't going to reverse the downward spiral in Bahrain, but he may wish to offer a few well-chosen words of advice to his royal counterparts over how jailing peaceful critics is not the way forward for Bahrain," Hogarth said.

Despite some soft-worded rebukes by the UK government, the relationship between the two countries remains strong highlighted by the opening of a British naval base on the island.

"Sadly, UK ministers have recently bent over backwards to paint a picture of Bahrain as a country pushing ahead with 'reforms' - the much darker truth is that it's a country hounding and locking up its dissidents," the statement read.
"Prince Charles shouldn't be hoodwinked by either the foreign office's rose-tinted view of Bahrain or by Manama's own well-resourced PR machine."

Prince Charles is on a week-long tour of the Gulf, which started with Oman on Saturday. He is currently in the UAE, another Gulf state that has been criticised for its record of jailing critics.