LONDON, UK – I recently had the pleasure of meeting Jalal and Jawad Fairooz, two Bahraini MPs who had their citizenship revoked as punishment for their involvement in the 2011 uprising.
A year after being made stateless, the Fairooz brothers have been granted asylum in the UK – an implicit recognition that the UK authorities believes they face persecution back home.
Indeed, parliament is well aware of serious abuses by the Bahraini authorities, as cited in this parliamentary report from November. The tiny Gulf country, ruled by a Sunni family with the backing of Saudi Arabia, Britain and the Americans, is about two-thirds Shia – who face massive discrimination in a sectarian system that has been compared to apartheid.*
But Her Majesty’s Government has kept schtum on widespread abuses such as child torture, excessive and deadly use of teargas, arbitrary arrest and unfair trials of activists, and outright murder. Can’t go upsetting the allies – especially when the Gulf monarchies, which are massive buyers of British-made weapons.
So while Jalal and Jawad are no longer stateless, the oppression back at home is likely to continue.
*”Crackdown on Shi’ites hurts Bahrain trade” June 20, 1996, The Guardian