John Yates, hired to reform Bahrain force, says police are ready to deal with the anniversary of the uprising in the Gulf kingdom
A former Metropolitan police assistant commissioner who has been hired to oversee the reform of Bahrain’s police force has spoken of introducing the British crowd-control tactic of “kettling” to the Gulf island kingdom, where he said police had faced “extraordinary provocation” during last year’s turmoil.
John Yates, who resigned last year from his post at Scotland Yard in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, was asked to overhaul Bahrain’s police service to ensure it meets international human rights standards after a report found evidence that excessive force and torture were used during the 2011 Pearl revolution.
Ahead of the first anniversary tomorrow of the uprising by Bahrainis eager to bring home the Arab spring, Yates told the Daily Telegraph that the police had a well-rehearsed plan to deal with what he described as “a huge date”, adding: “The concept of reasonable reaction to provocation has been reinforced.
“Unless they face extraordinary provocation like last year, it will be about allowing people to gather and containment,” he said.
“It’s about learning techniques from other places like kettling – that would work really well around here.”
The allegation that led to Yates quitting Scotland Yard over the phone-hacking scandal was, in November, ruled to be baseless. The Independent Police Complaints Commission had been called in by his employer, the Metropolitan Police Authority, to investigate claims he helped the daughter of a former top News of the World executive get a job with the Met. His resignation came one day after Sir Paul Stephenson resigned as Met commissioner. Yates, who was then the UK’s top counter-terrorism officer, would have been a serious contender to have been deputy commissioner of the Met had he stayed.
The Telegraph also quoted Yates saying of the confrontations on the streets of Bahrain: “This isn’t organised protests, its just vandalism, rioting on the streets.
“Acts of wanton damage that are destroying the economy.”
Bahrain’s opposition has been trying to keep up pressure on the government, dominated by the Sunni Muslim al-Khalifa family, and have called for reforms including an elected government and reduced powers for the al-Khalifas.
Martial law was imposed in Bahrain in March last year and the government asked troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help crush the month-old uprising. The government has said that the island’s majority Shia Muslims had co-ordinated the protests with Iran for sectarian reasons, an accusation the opposition denies.
Amnesty International, which has called on the Bahraini government to investigate allegations of torture and other abuses by the security forces since the uprising, last month called for an investigation into more than a dozen deaths that followed what the organisation described as the misuse of tear gas against peaceful protesters.