DR. Shehabi disappointed …UK fails to release ‘Butcher of Bahrain’ cable

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SHAFAQNA – A British court has ruled against the release of a 1977 cable between the government and a ruthless British military officer in charge of police in Bahrain.

Human rights activists have lost their battle at Britain’s Information Rights Tribunal to force the government to release a 38-year-old diplomatic cable that could shed light on the UK’s relationship with the authoritarian regime in Bahrain, the Independent reported Sunday.

The ruling came as the king of the Persian Gulf state came to Britain this weekend to attend the Royal Windsor Horse Show, a sign of continuing good relations between the UK and Bahrain, where the Royal Navy is building a major new military base.

In a ruling that disappointed campaigners, an information tribunal has ruled that there should be only a partial disclosure of the contents of the cable from 1977, detailing conversations between British officials and Ian Henderson, a British military officer who ran the police in the Persian Gulf monarchy for 30 years and was dubbed the “Butcher of Bahrain.”

Henderson, who died two years ago, was given the nickname after allegations that he was complicit in the ransacking of villages and the sexual abuse and maiming of Shia prisoners. He became head of security in Bahrain in 1966, when the country was still a British protectorate. He had previously helped suppress the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya.

Now Saeed Shehabi from the Bahrain Freedom Movement says, “This is a very disappointing story… I was there in the court when it was decrypting the request by a British researcher who was interested in knowing what was going on between the British government and the Bahraini regime in the seventies during which Ian Henderson a former British colonial officer was in charge of Bahrain security.”

Apparently there were some British names that would embarrass the government if they were disclosed. So the order came that not the full disclosure would be allowed and that’s a setback for freedom of information flow in the United Kingdom; something that has been much highlighted in the recent years,” Shehabi told Press TV’s UK Desk on Sunday.

Part of the document had already been released. However, the court ruled that the remaining details, which would normally be available under a 30-year rule controlling the release of government papers, should be only partially disclosed, as full disclosure of the document would have “an adverse effect on relations” with Bahrain, where the UK is keen to build further economic and defense ties.

The Information Rights Tribunal heard secret evidence for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) from a senior diplomat, Edward Oakden, who argued that Britain’s defence interests in Bahrain were of paramount importance. Oakden implied that the release of such information could jeopardize Britain’s new military base in the country.

Campaigners said the Bahraini regime was flaunting its relationship with Britain, as King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa arrived in the UK at the invitation of the Queen, to watch his eldest son, Sheikh Nasser, compete in the Royal Windsor Horse Show this weekend.

Source : Press TV

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