A CALL has gone out to step up security outside Bahrain’s Embassy in London after a British lawmaker was chased down by a group of protesters.
Rehman Chishti visited the mission in Knightsbridge last month during which he met Ambassador Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa to discuss bilateral trade and other issues.
As the MP left the embassy, he faced verbal harassment and had to run away from protesters who chased him until he boarded a taxi.
The protesters were working with fugitive Ali Mushaima who has been protesting outside the embassy since August 1, claiming that his father, Hassan, is being denied medical care at Jaw Prison.
Hassan Mushaima is serving a life sentence for trying to topple Bahrain’s government in 2011 and having links to foreign terror organisations, while Ali has been convicted in absentia and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
During a debate on Bahrain’s rights records at the House of Commons, Mr Chishti recalled the incident to his colleagues.
“When I came out of that meeting (at the embassy) I was followed by individuals outside, chased down the road and shouted at,” said the British MP.
“Pictures were taken. I did not know who those people were, I had never met them.
“They had never asked to see me and speak to me. I was threatened.”
Mr Chishti said he got into a cab, but the protesters did not stop harassing him.
“I then reported the incident to the House of Commons security services.”
“Is that how Members of Parliament should be treated?”
He also stressed the importance of constructive engagement and peaceful demonstrations when it came to difference of opinion.
“If people want to come to the United Kingdom and claim asylum, they should claim it according to the criteria, but they should respect individuals and how democracy works, and not treat parliamentarians in that way – I make that very clear,” he added.
In response to his remarks, Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Alistair Burt said that the UK “acknowledges peaceful protest, but there is activity that is unacceptable, and my honourable friend was right to raise his concerns”.
MP Bob Stewart also intervened and urged Mr Burt to step up security outside the Bahrain Embassy.
“Will the Foreign and Commonwealth Office consider whether policemen should be placed outside it, like they are outside the Iranian embassy?” questioned Mr Stewart.
Mr Burt responded by explaining that discussions about security measures were ongoing.
“We hope that the protest can be de-scaled, and normal service can return,” added Mr Burt.
Sources told the GDN that the House of Commons debate was attended by Ali Mushaima and Zainab Khawaja, who was released from custody on humanitarian grounds in 2016.
Ms Al Khawaja was sentenced to three years and one month in connection with five cases, and was in detention with her child.
Also present at the debate was Saeed Al Shehabi, leader of the radical UK-based opposition group Bahrain Freedom Movement.
Meanwhile, Bahraini MP Jamal Bu Hassan met British Ambassador Simon Martin to express concerns about the so-called protest by the fugitives in front of the embassy in London.
He condemned the activities of the fugitives, who he said were granted asylum in the UK and continued to harass individuals visiting the embassy.
During the meeting in Manama, Mr Bu Hassan also called upon Britain to support Bahrain’s candidacy for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Bahrain plans to join the Geneva-based 47-member council for 2019-2021 term.