By Claire Valdini
King Hamad bin Essa Al Khalifa trained at the world-famous academy trained at world famous Sandhurst
Sandhurst, the UK's elite officer training academy, has accepted a GBP£3m (US$4.7m) donation from the King of Bahrain.
The donation will be used to build a sports hall, which is due to open early next year, and will be named in the country’s honour, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported.
The academy accepted the donation in January, which is said to be part of a long-standing relationship between the Bahraini royal family and Sandhurst.
King Hamad bin Essa Al Khalifa trained at the world-famous academy, which also trains a select group of military personnel from the Gulf state. King Hamad has been patron of the Sandhurst Foundation, the academy’s alumni charity, since 2007.
Bahrain has been in crisis since a revolt led by mainly Shi'ite Muslims began 18 months ago to demand democracy in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.
Jeremy Corbyn MP condemned Sandhurst’s decision to accept the donation. “Bahrain has an appalling human rights record and even now medical practitioners are on trial for helping victims,’ he said told the Bureau.
“It is disgraceful that the British government should allow the King of Bahrain to fund Sandhurst and it seems there is a completely different set of standards on human rights relating to Bahrain, compared to many other states in the Gulf and Middle East region,” he added.
Bahrain has faced condemnation from governments and human rights groups after its crackdown on anti-government protests last year. A report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry said that 35 people died during the Gulf state’s unrest and five died due to torture.
The Interior Ministry in July ordered an investigation into possible rights violations by police during last year’s crackdown.
Lt-General Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Minister of Interior, said Bahrain was “fully committed to upholding human rights standards and maintaining transparency in its investigations”.
Although the Gulf state has put police officers on trial for abuse, international rights groups and opposition activists claim the government is dodging accountability at higher levels where security policy is decided.
I should think investing that amount in Bahrain itself, where funds are deseprately needed to help many of the poorer villages, would bring more good than donating it to Sandhurst.