By Nishma Doshi and Adam Ramsay
British Military Academy Sandhurst continued to train 5 Bahraini Officers throughout the ongoing murder and abuse of democracy protesters, Bright Green and Topsoil can reveal. The information, revealed to Bright Green and Topsoil in a Freedom of Information request, shows the extent of the Government’s continued support for the regime despite the ongoing crackdown on protests.
It has previously been revealed that Bahrain has in the past paid to have its troops trained in the UK. However, the continued support for the Bahraini army throughout the uprising is a new revelation. Bahraini troops were still being trained in Britain as of 21 April. Since 1995, a total of 61 Bahraini officers have been trained at Sandhurst. The provisions of training are vague, but the officers have been given an element of “crowd control” and “country-specific” training.
Two weeks after Medicin Sans Frontier condemned the Bahraini government for targeting medics who had treated protesters, and two months after troops began killing protesters, Chris Millward of the Land Forces justified the training of the troops as follows:
“Bahrain is considered a key defence ally in the Gulf and as part of our long-standing positive bilateral relationship the UK Armed Forces have provided training for the Bahraini Armed Forces in-country, and here in the UK, for many years. Bahrain has been a firm supporter of the UK’s operations in Afghanistan and has deployed forces in support of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission there. Bahrain contributes to Gulf maritime security and wider regional stability by providing vessels and regularly taking operational control of a maritime Combined Task Force on a rotational basis. In addition, Bahrain, along with the other Gulf states, are key partners in the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. They face a real and growing threat from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and partners must work closer together to combat that threat. It is therefore right that the UK remain engaged with them to ensure they remain a professional and capable force to contribute to these objectives.”
The British government has continually emphasised their commitment to “fairness” and “democracy”, but when it comes to foreign affairs the UK has lagged behind in every aspect.
In Bahrain, the pro-democracy rallies continue as the army silence their voices and cull their numbers through violence. Hospitals are closed to protestors, doctors threatened if they dare to treat any of those injured during their peaceful marches. Opposition figures have mysteriously “disappeared”. People arrested have been tortured and/or killed. The numbers of the dead are rising.
Depressingly, that British military academies are training officers from the small island should come as no surprise. Cameron recently invited and provided a “red carpet” welcome to the Bahraini Crown Prince praising his commitment to Democracy.
Full text of information released under the Freedom of Information Act