Bahrain’s price for hosting UK naval base is ‘blood of our children’ – Rajab to RT

The opening of a large UK naval base in Bahrain is a reward to London for not speaking out against the royal family’s abuses against dissenters, human rights activist Nabeel Rajab told RT. Hundreds of Bahrainis protested the announcement.

The Royal Navy will return to the former British protectorate after a 40-year absence, UK Foreign Minister Philip Hammond announced in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, on Saturday. The naval base will be the navy’s largest center of operations outside Britain.

READ MORE:Britain reopens Bahrain navy base after 40 yrs – to fight ISIS

Police used tear gas after hundreds of people took to streets in Sitra, a town near the base, to protest in the wake on the announcement. Protesters said the move was a form of payback for support of the repressive regime, which crushed the pro-democracy uprising in 2011, arresting and allegedly torturing scores of activists.

“Maybe Britain was the only country that openly supported the dictatorship in Bahrain and clearly opposing our struggle for democracy and human rights,” Rajab told RT. “Taking into consideration that the silence of the UK, Bahrain paying that [as] an award to them and for that reason Bahraini people are upset as the information [is] coming out.”

The British authorities say they plan to use the base facility in operations against the terrorist organization Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), which occupies large territories of Iraq and Syria. However, local activists do not want to see the British Navy in Bahrain.

“We don’t think that it will help very much the security because they could deal with ISIS from wherever they are,” Rajab said. “We’re a small nation, we’re a peaceful nation. We would like to maintain our peaceful relations with all our neighbors everywhere.”

“And finally we will have to pay the price of their presence here. And unfortunately I would say this comes in the blood of our children. We don’t welcome this base.”

Earlier, the results of elections held in November caused clashes of demonstrators and security forces. The activists attempted to block the streets in protest against parliamentary elections which they see as a farce and a sham. The police had to use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

READ MORE: Protesters clash with Bahraini forces, call election ‘farce’ (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Bahrain has been criticized by international organizations for human rights abuses, however, as the home of the US Fifth Fleet, it has faced little criticism from Western governments.

“Bahrain’s human rights record regressed further in key areas in 2013 and the government made little real progress regarding reforms it claimed to pursue. Security forces continued to arrest scores of individuals arbitrarily in towns where anti-government protests regularly take place,” the Human Rights Watch website says.