Letter: Bahrain views

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The Independent Culture
Sir: While I appreciate that the main purpose of Fran Abrams' article "Britain's cosy relationship with torture state" (7 December) in making allegations about the Bahrain government's human rights record was to raise questions about the British government's "ethical dimension" in its foreign policy, I cannot let it pass without comment.

Over the last two-and-a-half years as ambassador in the UK, I have addressed the subject of human rights in Bahrain on many occasions with a wide range of people.

Internationally, there is general consensus that Bahrain has taken considerable steps to ensure that its citizens live in an open, liberal society.

For the fourth year running it has come top among Arab countries in the United Nations Report on Human Development.

The Red Cross has visited Bahrain and we are in consultation with many other non-governmental organisations.

The Shura Council system which ensures that consultation takes place on all policy matters is endorsed by the Koran and is part of the Islamic culture, and the proper basis for an evolutionary process.

Bahrain has a highly developed health and education infrastructure. We respect religious freedom, are multicultural and have a free press.

We are a firm ally of the West, as was demonstrated throughout the Gulf war, and are hosts to Unscom.

Bahrain has enjoyed a long and historic relationship with the UK based on mutual respect and understanding. It is not helped by reporting which reflects unfairly on both countries.



Embassy of the State of Bahrain

London SW7