Bahrain’s king invites Queen to Windsor Horse Show

Bahrain’s king invites Queen to Windsor Horse Show

The king of Bahrain is due to attend the Royal Windsor horse show on Sunday after a personal invitation from the Queen, prompting anger from campaigners who claim the UK is playingwashing what they say is an increasingly repressive regime.

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has been invited as a guest of the Queen, demonstrating a warmth of official relations despite the Middle Eastern state soutlawing political opposition and human rights violations, including torture.

King Hamad gave congratulations to Vladimir Putin on Russia's Victory Day, which was held last week ahead of the UK's largest outdoor horse show.

The Queen is expected to attend the horse show on Sunday to watch the platinum jubilee celebration in her honour. However, she will have to brave a protest organized by the Campaign Against Arms Trade that will highlight the event's sportswashing of human rights abuses in Bahrain. Among those attending the protest are exiled activist Sayed Ahmed Alwaei, whose Bahraini citizenship was revoked after he protested against the king of Bahrain at the Windsor horse show and who is in effect stateless as a result.

Alwadaei, director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said that the red carpet is being rolled out for King Hamad in the UK, while the people of Bahrain continue to live under the brutal repression of the Al Khalifa dictatorship. His invitation to the Royal Windsor horse show is morally bankrupt and sends a clear signal that the UK is a safe haven for dictators and human rights abusers. Every year, Bahrain s rulers return home with the comfort of knowing that no matter how much pain they inflict on their people, they will still be feted in England. The king's invite came after the organisers of the Windsor event agreed to adopt a human rights policy after a complaint that the show is being exploited by the Bahrain royal family to distract from rights abuses.

On Friday, the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE, may persuade the king to fly back to the Gulf at short notice.

Not only will the Gulf state king be present at Windsor but Bahrain's Prince Nasser has also confirmed that he will be attending.

In 2014, the high court in London ruled that Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al KhalifaHamad Al Khalifa was not immune from prosecution over torture claims, allegations the Bahraini government categorically denied.

Since the 2011 uprising, which aimed at removing the ruling monarchy, Bahrain has been involved in the repression of its Shia majority. Human rights groups claim that the regime is using mass terrorism trials and the removal of citizenship to crack down on peaceful activists.

Amnesty International s latest assessment of Bahrain states that the government continued to commit serious human rights violations, including torture and other ill-treatment, as well as the suppression of freedom of expression and assembly. The investigation of ill-treatment resulted in impunity for the perpetrators.