Date: Wed, 18 Jan 95 10:25:09 +0100
From: Alhadi Khalaf <>
Subject: Re: Bahrain
Message-Id: <>

Constitutional Restoration in Bahrain

By Alhadi Khalaf <>
18 January, 1995

For the past few months several oppositional networks, including shia islamists, sunni islamists, communists, nassersists (and the rest of the rainbow of arab political discourse) have been coordinating their activities to impress the autocratic ruler of bahrain to re-instate the country's elected parliament, impliment the constitutions and end violations of human rights by the British-led internal security forces in bahrain.

On december 19th, amnesty international issued an urgent appeal stating that it has " received reports that Hani 'Abbas Khamis and Hani Ahmed al-Wasti were killed on 17 December 1994 in circumstances suggesting that they may have been unlawfully killed by the security forces."

"The two men were taking part in demonstrations in al-Sanabis in Manama when the Bahraini security forces opened fire, killing them and injuring a number of others. The United Nations Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials state that "intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life."

"The demonstrators were calling for, among other things, the release of political detainees arrested in connection with the signing of the petition calling on the Amir of Bahrain to reinstate the parliament. The detainees include al-Shaikh 'Ali Salman who was arrested on 5 December. Since that date a number of demonstrations have taken place in different parts of Bahrain, some of which turned violent. Scores of people have been arrested"

According to opposition sources at least 1600 persons have detained while the government states that it is "presntly detaining only 200" Most of these will be subject to the notorious "Amiri Decree on Measures Concerning State Security (issued October 22, 1974).

The State Security Decree was issued few days before the end of Bahraini parliament summer session. The government's made several attempts to make that decree a law, in accordance with the country's constitution, by having passed by the parliament. All attempt were opposed by a solid block of 29 out of the 30 elected members of the parliament. Having failed to break the overwhelming majority, the Amir of Bahrain issued another decree, dissolving the parliament itself. The same decree (August 1975) abrogated the relevant articles in the constitution which stipulates that new elections must be held within sixty days of dissolution of the parliament.

The government and its British-led security forces, continue to enforce the unconstitutional decree which states in part:

" Article 1: if there is a serious evidence that a person has made statements, committed acts, undertaken activities which are considered as endangering internal or external security of the country, or to the country's religious or national interests, or to its fundamental structure, or social or economic systems, or incite discord which affects or could affect relations between the people and the government, or between the various institutions of the state, between sectors of the people, those working in establishment and companies, or which aim to assist the commission of acts of sabotage or harmful propaganda, or the dissemination of heretical principles, then the Interior Minister is empowred to order the arrest of the said person, place him in one of Bahrain's prisons, inspect him, inspect his residence, inspect his work-place and to to take whatever necessary to gather evidence and complete investigations. The period of detention shall not exceed three years...."

"Article 2: Court sessions shall always be held in-camera, and no one is permitted to attend except the defendant, his representative and representative of the Prosecutor-General. ....."

Empowered by this unconstitutional decree, Bahrain's security forces under the command of the British mercenary Col Ian Henderson have, over the past twenty years, victimized thousands of Bahraini citizens. Some of whom, such as Mr. Muhsin Marhoon a well known lawyer and a member of the dissolved parliament, have detained for five years without trial or charges.

The ferocity of recent clamp down may be related to the GCC summit which convened in Bahrain on December 19. Nothing, even peaceful forms of protest should alloed to disturb the conservative rulers' parley.

An alliance of local opposition forces have been planning to use the occasion to hand over to the ruler of Bahrain a petition signed by thousands of citizens from all walks of life with a rainbow of political and social backgrounds, demanding an end to the rulers unconstitutional decree which suspended the country s constitution and parliament. The popularity of the petition among the public has surpassed every optimistic forecast. This may have been facilitated by the rising rates of unemployment among the country's youth; the sharp decline in economic activities in the Island; and the blatant corruption within senior circles of the government and the ruling family, Alkhalifa.

In spite of its independence in 1971, Bahrain continues to rely in matters of internal security on Western support and expertise. The British-led security forces in Bahrain have been particularly ferocious when dealing with opposition activities. Several hundreds of Bahraini citizens have been deported, forced into exile or denied entry to their own country. The twenty years old Security Decree allows the regime to arrest and detain any person for a period of up to three years without charges or trial. Thousands of Bahrainis have been victimized by the security forces indiscriminate use of that notorious decree.

State security charges, " liasoning with foreign state..." were brough against the young cleric and several others few days before christmas. They were not allowed to be present as they were detained in solitary confinements. Eleven lawyers volunteered to defend them. The lawyers included shias and sunni and represented all political spectrum in the island. Noteworthy is one of them is a woman.

Unfortunately, Bahrain authorities decided to go further. On January 15, Ali Salman and two others were deported from Bahrain to united arab emirates. The group has since moved to London, England, where they are seeking political asylum.

What may be be interesting to the discussion on "political islam" is that in bahrain, the islamists, the sunni as well as the shias, donot abhore or shy away from cooperating with secular opposition forces. Indeed they share a common platform of demands for political reforms which begins with accepting the demands of REAl life. Unlike their counterparts in several arab states, bahraini islamists do not reject their secular co-citizens or condemn them to hell already in this life. Probably there is something worth pondering about or learning from, in the "joint action strategy" which has been undertaken by pro democracy forces the tiny gulf state.

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