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Fury over Sandhurst's insult to Mons heroes: Hall renamed after 3million gift from Bahrain king
The Mons Hall will now be called the King Hamad Hall after the 3million gift
Was originally named to honour thousands of soldiers that died in the battleCritics say the king is 'buying our silence' over alleged human rights abuses
01:48 GMT, 18 February 2013
02:03 GMT, 18 February 2013
Sandhurst is renaming a hall which commemorates the fallen of a major First World War battle following a 3million donation from the king of Bahrain.
The Mons Hall was named to honour thousands of British soldiers who died during the battle in Belgium in 1914.
But despite the 100th anniversary of the battle next year, military chiefs are changing its name to King Hamad Hall after the Bahraini ruler, who has given millions to Sandhurst.
Sacrifice: Soldiers at the Battle of Mons in September 1914. A hall commemorating the fallen will be renamed after a 3million donation from the Bahrain king
Criticism: The Mons Hall at Sandhurst, pictured, will be renamed to honour the Bahraini monarch
Critics have accused the Army of betraying the dead, and said that Bahrain – which has been condemned for brutally repressing demonstrators at home – was ‘buying silence’ over its behaviour.
Last week thousands of protesters in the Gulf state marked the second anniversary of the pro-democracy uprising. On Thursday, a 16-year-old boy was shot.
The king is patron of the Sandhurst Foundation, and paid 3million to help refurbish the hall.
The military academy, in Surrey, also accepted a 15million donation from the United Arab Emirates to build an accommodation block. It raises questions about the college’s links with Gulf states accused of human rights abuses.
Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘There’s something deeply ironic in renaming a hall that was in memory of soldiers who died in a tragic battle in the First World War in honour of a king who is routinely committing human rights abuses.
Change: The room will be named King Hamad Hall, after the Bahraini ruler, pictured with Prime Minister David Cameron, after he gave a donation towards its refurbishment
‘We should not be accepting money from such people. They are in effect trying to buy our silence.’
Andy Slaughter, a Labour MP who is
chairman of the Commons all-party Democracy In Bahrain group, said: ‘To
change the name of something which commemorates a very tragic episode in
British military history, simply because they’re getting a sum of money
from a rather dubious source, is appalling.’
than 1,600 British troops died at Mons, the first major battle of the
Yet against overwhelming odds, with two Germans to every Briton,
the British Army inflicted 5,000 casualties before being forced to
The Mons Hall will be reopened next
month. King Hamad has been invited and a plaque will be unveiled with
the inscription: ‘King Hamad Hall.
Controversial: Critics say the move disrespects the thousands of soldiers who fought and died at Mons
This building, the former Mons Hall, was refurbished in 2013 with a generous gift from the Kingdom of Bahrain.’
There was outrage on the internet at the renaming. Andy in Belfast wrote on MailOnline: ‘One must remember that you can’t “buy” the qualities of our glorious dead.’
Ron, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, wrote: ‘To even think about changing the name is an absolute disgrace.’
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘All donations to Sandhurst are in compliance with the UK’s domestic and international legal obligations and our values as a nation.
‘Providing defence training and education to overseas cadets at the same high standards used by UK Armed Forces helps to save lives and raise awareness of human rights.’