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Britain is to send the Royal Air Force Red Arrows display team to perform Bahrain, just weeks after negotiations opened on the sale of BAE Eurofighter jets to the tiny Gulf Kingdom.
Bahrain’s ruling family has been engaged in brutal repression of protesters since a democratic uprising began i n February 2011. Britain has been repeatedly criticised for selling weapons and other military hardware to the regime while the crackdown continues.
Earlier today, Index reported the awarding of yet another international prize to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, which has been battling peacefully for democracy in Bahrain under increasing repression since the uprising. The campaign group won the Norwegian Rafto Human Rights Prize.
Center leader Nabeel Rajab was imprisoned not long after accepting an Index on Censorship Free Expression Award in 2012, and remains in jail.
There have been dozens of violent deaths in Bahrain since the beginning of the uprising, many put down to the regime forces’ indiscriminate use of tear gas, which it is reported to be stockpiling.
A press release published on the Bahrain News Agency Portal today says:
One of the world’s premier aerobatic teams, Britain’s famous Red Arrows, is to display in Bahrain as part of a Middle East tour.
The team, with its nine distinctive red jets, will perform a series of precision formations and dynamic loops and rolls when it visits on Sunday, November 10.
The Team’s visit to the region has come about after accepting an invitation to the Dubai Air Show, where the Red Arrows will perform each day between November 17 and 21.
It is an opportunity being used by the Team to visit other nations in an important region, with which the United Kingdom has strong links to.
Indeed, Britain’s armed forces have a deep historical tie with Bahrain dating back over 200 years.
As ambassadors for the UK, the Red Arrows showcase the excellence of the Royal Air Force.
The team, which currently fly BAE Systems Hawk aircraft, consists of nine display pilots, all of whom are from frontline squadrons. Each has previously operated other Royal Air Force fast jets, such as the Tornado or the Typhoon multi-role combat aircraft
Bahrain has a great interest in the excellence of British hardware and expertise. As well as looking to buy an “unspecified number of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets”, Bahrain already imports hardware including weapons from Britain. Meanwhile, former senior Metropolitan police officer John Yates was engaged to advise the government on policing and dealing with civil unrest.
Arms trade campaigners are celebrating today, after a London judge decided that the director of the Serious Fraud Office should not have dropped an investigation into a multi-billion dollar arms deal. Padraig Reidy reports
A court ruled today that the British government was wrong to intervene in a Serious Fraud Office investigation into dealings between BAE and the Saudi government.
The government had ordered the investigation to be halted, claiming it presented a threat to national security. It was alleged that the Saudi government had said it would no longer co-operate in intelligence and security if the investigation went any further.
In a ruling issued this morning, Lord Justice Moses said: ‘It is obvious, in the present case, that the decision to halt the investigation suited the objectives of the executive. Stopping the investigation avoided uncomfortable consequences, both commercial and diplomatic. Whilst we have accepted the evidence as to the grounds of the decision, in future cases, absent a principle of necessity, it would be all too tempting to use a threat as a ground for convenient conclusion: we fear for the reputation of the administration of justice if it can be perverted by a threat.’
He continued: ‘Our courts and lawyers have the luxury and privilege of common law and statutory protection against power which threatens the rule of law. All the more important, then, that they provide support and encouragement to those in a less happy position. How do they do so, if they endorse surrender, when in Uganda the courts are forced to resist when those whom they have released on bail are re-arrested on the court-room steps by armed agents of the executive, or when the Chief Justices of Fiji and Pakistan are deposed by military rulers?’
Symon Hill of Campaign Against the Arms Trade, which brought the case along with Corner House, said that the judgment upheld the principle ‘that might is not right, and the law should operate without fear, favour or prejudice’.
Susan Hawley of Corner House commented that ‘the ruling has strengthened our securities and freedoms’.
The judgment means the director of the Serious Fraud Office must now decide whether to appeal the decision, and whether to re-open the investigation.