Acceptance by the people is the source of legitimacy to the Law – Bahrain Freedom Movement

Is every law legitimate? Or is the process of law-making detrimental to its legitimacy? It can be argued that almost every country in the world has its own laws, most have constitutions on which these laws are based. But are all these laws legitimate? Or are there criteria for legitimacy or lack of it? There are basic requirements for the law-making processes. First is the participation of the people in this process. It the role of the people that make them sovereign.  Without their participation laws are viewed with contempt and are often contentious. Second is that the laws must not contradict either the international conventions or the established acceptable cultures of the people.  The ratification of the international conventions has become a binding requirement worldwide. Countries that simply sign international protocols without ratifying them are viewed as not abiding by the international requirements. Third, law making processes must be open, transparent and open to public scrutiny. Governments cannot impose their own laws without referring to their people for discussion and approval.

Laws are thus not binding if they are imposed unilaterally by regimes that do not allow public participation. In Bahrain, for example, the ruling Al Khalifa family in 1974 imposed the notorious State Security Law. It was the product of Ian Henderson’s genius and was approved and put into practice by the prime minister. Thousands of Bahrainis were persecuted by this law, tortured and banished. Scores were killed in torture chambers or in street demonstrations. Is this a legitimate law? The present ruler, Sheikh Hamad, had to scrap it in 2001 when it became clear that it was one of the most draconian laws the ruling family had ever adopted. Law is thus not sacred, and can be resisted. When the government, for example, issues a law banning practices that are allowed within the international conventions especially the Universal Declarations of Human Rights, such laws are null and void. They are illegitimate tools of repression and the citizens are well-advised to challenge them. This is also true with the present constitution imposed on the people by Sheikh Hamad and his clique. It is not binding for several reasons; First it was written unilaterally by the ruling family without any role for the people. Second it was tailor-made to cater for the needs of the ruler, and ignored the principles of democracy and the rule of law. Third, it was not put to public referendum, but simply imposed by the ruler. Forth, it contradicts in letter and spirit the Sheikh Hamad’s charter that was endorsed by the people. The endorsement is now viewed by many people as one of the most destructive step that enabled the ruling family to exercise unrestricted dictatorship under the pretence of this charter.

The people of Bahrain are being subjected to unprecedented tyranny. What makes the present tyranny more destructive than earlier dictatorships is that it is being given deceptive names, and presented to the outside world as a democracy. The “reformed” political system of the country today is more repressive than the earlier ones. First it has legitimized the continued premiership of Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa after 37 years in that post. Second, it has allowed the transformation of the cabinet into an Al Khalifa enclave; with 17 ministers out of 29 cabinet posts (compared to 5 out of fifteen in the seventies and eighties). Third, the ruler has now wider powers and can over-rule all other powers. He cannot be held to account for any action or decision he takes, he is above the law, and is entrusted to fundamentally alter the demographic balance in the country. Furthermore, the present “reformed” political system has enabled the senior “reformist” figures to plunder the wealth of Bahrain, without the fear of public scrutiny. This is in addition to the misappropriation of the meager land of Bahrain, while tens of thousands of Bahrainis are denied proper housing. The laws that are imposed on the people to stop them protesting against this state of total chaos, political anarchy and economic theft, are expected to be adhered to. The advice to the Bahrainis is to engage in a deeper civil resistance campaign against these laws, take every possible civilian action to ensure that draconian laws are doomed, and that the imposed constitution is repealed. They have to endeavour for a more representative code that embodies their wishes and aspirations, and confine the powers of the ruler to within reasonable limits. The absolute powers contained in Sheikh Hamad’s 2002 constitution, if not comprehensively defeated, will lead to absolute dictatorship that will dwarf that of the prime minister.

It is an uphill struggle. But with the civil resistance campaign running smoothly throughout the country, the opposition are gaining more strength and becoming more resolute in their campaign.  The daily protests, demonstrations, seminars, web articles and mosque sermons are contributing to the spread of the public resentment against the hereditary dictatorship. Moreover, the longer the political prisoners remain behind bars, the more fuel is provided to the popular movement to acts against the tyrannical Al Khalifa regime. The forthcoming trial of the regime in Geneva by the Human Rights council is a positive development, as it has confirmed, beyond any doubt, the extent to which it has engaged in human rights violations of the people of Bahrain. Regardless of the outcome of the trial, the Bahraini regime has now been established worldwide as being involved in systematic torture, arbitrary detentions, extra-judicial killings and abuses against women and children. Furthermore, Bahraini human rights activists have to internationalise the most heinous crime of all; the cultural and physical extermination of the Shia Muslim natives of Bahrain through the political naturalization process, re-writing the history of the land in a way that distorts the facts and figures relating to the history of the Baharna (original natives of Bahrain). The political situation is now becoming an all-out encounter with political, religious, cultural and historical dimensions. The regime has allocated large funds to finance its extra-territorial activities to counter the activities of the opposition. The country’s oil revenues are plundered at unprecedented rate, with the aim of implementing the evil programmes of Sheikh Hamad and his clique. A collective civil resistance movement is thus the only way to safeguard the identity of Bahrain; the land of thinkers, scientists, historians, poets and historians.

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