At least one of the 1900 guests or so invited to the April 29th wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton says he won’t be coming: Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, has sent his regrets to Prince Charles due to the continuing unrest in the Gulf State kingdom, Al-Jazeera reports.
The prince was one of more than 40 foreign monarchs (and a few dictators) to be invited to the royal wedding. As Al-Jazeera says, “The annoucement came as Bahrain’s state media reported that a military prosecutor has called for seven anti-government protesters to be given the death penalty.” The protesters are accused of killing two policemen; their lawyers has denied the charges. A hearing is set for this upcoming Thursday.
The protests began in mid-February in Bahrain and at least 30 have died. Bahrain’s rulers have imposed martial law on the country and called in Saudi troops to put down the uprising.
Human rights activists including Abdulhadi Alkhawaja have been beaten and imprisoned. Alkhawaja’s daughter, Zainab, went on a hunger strike to demand her father’s release and that of her husband and brother-in-law after they were seized over two weeks ago. As the Guardian reports, Zainab Alkhawaja ended her hunger strike last week after she was convinced that “‘being silent in a tomb and not able to speak is not in the interests of my family.’” Last Wednesday, her family received phone calls from authorities that the three men are alive; the family has been asked to bring essentials such as clothes to a military court for her father and the others.
According to the New York Times, “campaigners in Britain complained when palace officials said Saturday that the prince was attending the nuptials, and some petitioned Foreign Secretary William Hague to revoke the invitation.” Prince Salman said that he was “‘saddened and troubled’” by such reports and said that such reports
“…fundamentally misrepresented my own views, outlook and position on recent events and thus, clearly sought to involve my potential attendance as a political proxy for wider matters involving Bahrain.”
Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, told Al-Jazeera that people in Bahrain expected Britain to take a firm position about not inviting those “accused of grievous human-rights abuses” to a celebration such as the royal wedding:
“Calling our crown prince at a time when people are being killed … for demanding their political rights and peacefully protesting, is extremely disappointing,” he said in a phone interview.
“They’re losing the hearts and minds of the people in this region.”
Many doctors, nurses, surgeons, ambulance drivers and other medical personnel have been arrested or are missing in Bahrain, says the New York Times, an indication that the country’s health-care system is “drawn into Bahrain’s confrontation with pro-democracy campaigners.”
The video below shows protesters in Bahrain’s capital of Manama clashing with police near the offices and compound of Bahrain’s ruling family.
Please sign the petition to free Abdulhadi Alkhawaja.
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