London (IRNA): The British Government has asked Bahraini authorities to investigate reports of British military equipment being used against protesters in the Persian Gulf island country, Middle East Minister Alistair Burt has confirmed.
“We are seeking clarification from the Bahraini Government over the potential use of British supplied equipment during these protests,” Burt said.
“However, to date we have seen no evidence of British supplied equipment being used by the Bahraini authorities during the recent protests,” he insisted in a parliamentary reply published Thursday.
The British government initially ordered a review of arms sales after being criticised for issuing licenses last year for supplying deadly crowd control ammunition and chemicals to Bahrain as well as Libya.
Within days, Burt announced that the government had conducted an immediate and rapid review and that the licensing authority has taken a decision to “revoke 24 individual licences and 20 open licences for Bahrain.”
The Middle East Minister in his reply confirmed the review of export licenses to Bahrain and said “any licences for equipment that could be used for internal repression have been revoked.”
“Export licenses are kept under constant review and every licence is scrutinised in light of changing facts on the ground,” he told MPs.
The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) condemned the government’s “empty words” reaction to revelations about UK arms exports to the Middle East and called for an immediate embargo on Arab state.
“It is astounding that the government is still insisting it has a responsible arms export policy while, in the same breath, admitting that it was happy to supply authoritarian regimes with the means to crush dissent,” said CAAT campaigns coordinator Sarah Waldron.
“Far from seeking to restrain arms sales, the UK government actively promotes them. While this policy stands there is no prospect of meaningful arms control,” Waldron warned
A separate decision was also taken to revoke eight individual licences for Libya, while the review of export licences was extended to the wider region, including Yemen.