Peter Beaumont and Robert Booth
Feb 19, 2011
The British government has launched a review of arms exports to Bahrain after it emerged that the country’s security forces were supplied with weapons by the United Kingdom.
After a bloody crackdown in the capital, Manama, left up to five people dead and more than 100 injured, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said the government will “urgently revoke licences if we judge that they are no longer in line with the [UK and European Union] criteria”.
Despite long-running concerns among activists over Bahrain’s human rights record, British firms were last year granted licences, unopposed, to export an arsenal of sometimes deadly crowd control weapons. Licences approved included exactly the kind of weapons and ammunition used by Bahraini riot police to clear the Pearl Roundabout protest encampment, including shotguns, teargas canisters, “crowd control ammunition” and stun grenades.
“We closely consider allegations of human rights abuses,” said Burt. “We will not authorise any exports which, we assess, might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflicts, which might be used to facilitate internal repression.”
Human rights groups called for an immediate suspension of arms supplies to Bahrain and the disclosure of why licences were granted in the first place.
This article was posted: Saturday, February 19, 2011 at 3:38 am