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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.