While Bahrain imprisons and harasses its critics with impunity, Britain continues to be one of its closest allies
This week, a court in my home country, Bahrain, reached a verdict in one of the largest mass trials in the nation’s history. Jail terms were handed to 139 people, including 69 life sentences, ostensibly for terrorism-related offences. All but one were stripped of their citizenship.
In 2011, a huge number of Bahrain’s citizens took to the streets to demand democratic change from the al-Khalifa family, who have ruled the country for some 200 years. Since then, it has ramped up repression, outlawing opposition groups, closing the only independent newspaper and restricting freedom of assembly. The United Nations has condemned the widespread use of torture in Bahraini prisons – and has expressed concern about the latest convictions. Anti-terror legislation has been expanded and is used extensively to harass journalists, human rights defenders and anyone who dares contest the legitimacy of the government.