Shaikh Ali Salman is a political heavyweight in Bahrain. He has led Al-Wefaq, the largest political party in Bahrain for over ten years, and on 27 December 2014, he was once again re-elected as Secretary-General of Al-Wefaq at the party's General Assembly. The next day, Shaikh Salman was summoned to the Criminal Investigations Department, where authorities detained him.
Last week, with little fanfare and under heavy security, an historic meeting took place in Rome which marked a turning point in interfaith relations. Inside the 16th century Casina Pio IV villa, home to the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences, seven clerics representing over five billion people overcame lingering traditions of suspicion to commit to the eradication of modern day slavery by the year 2020.
Human rights defenders are not against the British, European, or American interests in Bahrain. Their interests align with a democratic Bahrain, and we should strive to have business relations which take into account human rights. We would just like these countries to hold Bahrain accountable for human rights violations and to urge the Bahraini government to reform and adhere to democratic ideals.
Arms sales are not apolitical acts. On one hand, they bolster the buyers by giving them a British endorsement as a fig-leaf of respectability, but they also buy the UK government's political support and compliance. As the crackdown continues to escalate it is becoming increasingly clear that decisions being made in support of arms sales are having serious consequences for the victims of state repression.
Perhaps it is too much to expect that the British should adopt an "Ethical Foreign Policy", as once they promised, but please let us not choose the most immoral alternative. The government must intervene at once to insist that Nabeel's exercise of his right to free speech while he was our guest in Britain cannot form the basis for his detention upon his return home.
The news is worrying. Maryam faces charges of insulting the King, assaulting an official (authorities say there was a scuffle when they took Maryam's phone, from which she was tweeting her experience), and running an organisation which named officials who had tortured political prisoners. She could face a long sentence.
It is undoubtedly true that there are some barbaric extremists who pervert the meaning of Islam - many of whom may now be associated with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. All the more reason, then, for us to identify our friends in the Islamic world, and treat them well. Why, then, did the British authorities treat my friend Nebeel Rajab, his wife, his 16-year-old son, and his 12-year-old daughter so badly?
The reality Bahrain's situation has not improved. Like most countries which saw uprising and revolution in 2011, it has only worsened. I am happy to say that the United States, one of Bahrain's closest allies and whose Fifth Fleet is station in my country, is keenly aware of these problems, though whether they will pressure the government to improve the situation remains to be seen. More concerning - and infuriating - is the British response to Bahrain's crisis.
Without justice there can be no peace in Bahrain, and that won't change as long as the UK is happy to promote and provide political cover for an illegitimate government that is inflicting untold misery on its own citizens. Only by ending the political and military support that is strengthening the regime can the UK ensure that it is promoting human rights and acting the best interests of the people of Bahrain.
Upon leaving the meeting and re-entering the real world we were treated to a sub-standard packed lunch and a shuttle bus back to the train station. What is clear is that Carr and the rest of the board has bought into their own propaganda and a dystopian world-view in which strengthening tyrants is a way to bring peace and stability, and where the human consequences of war have nothing whatsoever to do with those who provide the weapons.
The future for Bahrain is uncertain. However, one certainty amidst the chaos, is that change is Bahrain will remain a mirage so long as the king is bolstered by so much international support. Let's not beat about the bush, the British government is publicly supporting a oppressive and undemocratic government in Bahrain.