The government has been condemned for inviting Bahrain to Britain's largest arms fair despite clear evidence that the kingdom has used imported weaponry to violently suppress pro-democracy protests.
The authoritarian Gulf state is one of 65 national delegations invited to the DSEi arms fair, an enormous showcase of British military hardware which opens today in London. More than 30 people have been killed in Bahrain since February, when demonstrations inspired by the popular revolts across the Arab world broke out against the ruling al-Khalifa family. The authorities responded with tear gas and live ammunition.
Saudi Arabia, a firm ally of the al-Khalifa dynasty, also sent troops to suppress the protests, some entering the country in Tactica armoured vehicles built by BAE Systems. It emerged last year that the Department for Business approved the sale to Bahrain of crowd control weapons including shotguns, teargas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.