Int. lawyers to sue UK over Bahrain crackdown

June 19, 2011

A group of international lawyers are going to take British government officials to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague over their role in the brutal crackdown of pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain.

The lawyers from Lebanon, Spain, France and Italy accuse Britain of selling arms, including sniper rifles, to the Manama regime and training Bahraini police forces, who are accused of using heavy-handed tactics against anti-government protesters in Bahrain, Press TV reported.
The legal dossier targets both members of the British government and the Ministry of Defense.
It includes harrowing testimonies, medical records and photographic evidence of what are described as crimes against humanity.
“We know that they have trained Bahraini police how to capture and how to stop protests in Bahrain,” Chief Representative of Beirut-based International Coalition against Impunity, May el-Khansa, told Press TV.
The ICC has promised to examine the dossier within the next month, but it is not yet clear if it will open an investigation into the case.
The coalition of lawyers is now hoping that the ICC will refer the case to the United Nations for further investigation.
The United Kingdom has a long history of meddling in Bahrain.
The UK helped establish the Al Khalifa dynasty in Bahrain -- whose ruling system was inspired by the British monarchy.
Soon after coming into power, the Al Khalifa family, which is originally from Najd in central Saudi Arabia, signed the first of many treaties establishing Bahrain as a British Protectorate.
Shortly after the start of large-scale oil production in the Persian Gulf state, the British naval base in the Middle East was moved to Bahrain.
Despite claiming independence from Britain few decades ago, Bahrain has continued a tight relationship with the UK. In 2004, bilateral trade between the two countries was worth over USD370 million.
Now, Bahrain also plays host to the huge naval base of the United States' 5th Fleet in the Persian Gulf.
Anti-government protests against the rule of the Al Khalifa dynasty in Bahrain began in mid-February.
Since then, Manama has unleashed a massive crackdown on anti-government protesters.
On March 14, Saudi Arabia -- backed by both the US and the UK -- deployed troops to Bahrain at Manama's request to help crush the nationwide anti-government protests there.
Scores of people have been killed and many more arrested and tortured in prisons in the Saudi-backed crackdown on protests in Bahrain.
On Friday, pro-democracy protesters staged an anti-regime demonstration in the eastern city of Sitra to mark the fourth months of popular uprising in Bahrain.
According to Press TV, on Thursday night, protesters took to the streets of Barbar village in the north of Bahrain.
Meanwhile, regime officials have reportedly taken over the pages of Rasad News, a major source of news about human rights violations in the Middle Eastern country.
Several anti-government websites and chat room applications have also been blocked this month.
Photo: Pro-democracy protesters on Friday staged a demonstration in the eastern city of Sitra to mark the fourth months of popular uprising in Bahrain.