Translation of the Historic Petition being circulated in Bahrain since October 1994
His Highness, Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa
The Amir of the State of Bahrain, may God save him
It was an historic and successful step that you took to establish the pillars of the modern State of Bahrain. Following independence, you endorsed the Constitution on 6th December 1973 and enabled the holding of the legislative election. This was a leading edge in the modern history of Bahrain and that of the region. It has confirmed your belief in the importance of the popular participation on the basis of Shura (consultation) and justice for the fulfillment of the requirements demanded by the cultural progress of our modern country, and as demanded for laying down the foundation of its institutions with full determination and confidence in its posterity and their ability to shoulder responsibilities for the advancement of the country, peace and stability on the basis of fraternity, solidarity and social cohesion.
Since the dissolution of the National Assembly on 26th August 1975 until today, our homeland had suffered immensely. As a result, grave consequences occurred due to the interruption of the pioneering democratic process undertaken by you when you inaugurated the first legislative session of the elected National Assembly. Your people were keen to provide the opportunities for enriching the experiment of National Assembly.
The consequences after the dissolution of the National Assembly by the Amiri decree No. 4/1974 has necessitated opening the dialogue with your Highness on the future of our homeland. A group of citizens submitted the (first) petition to your Highness on 15/11/1992 which summarized the demands for restoring the National Assembly in accordance with the Constitution.
As your highness is aware, the Consultative Council which you had appointed by an Amiri decree does not fill the existing vacuum due to the closing down of the most important and only legislative institution. The reality we now face dictates that we will fail our duty if we do not speak-out frankly to you. Your wise leadership witnesses the incorrect circumstances that our country is passing through amid the changing regional and international environment while the constitutional institution is absent. Had the banning of the National assembly been lifted, it would have enabled overcoming the negative accumulations which hinder the progress of our country. We are facing crises with dwindling opportunities and exits, the ever-worsening unemployment situation, the mounting inflation, the losses to the business sector, the problems generated by the nationality (citizenship) decrees and the prevention of many of our children from returning to their homeland. In addition, there are the laws which were enacted during the absence of the parliament which restrict the freedom of citizens and contradict the Constitution. This was accompanied by lack of freedom of expression and opinion and the total subordination of the press to the executive power. These problems, your Highness, have forced us as citizens to demand the restoration of the National Assembly, and the involvement of women in the democratic process. This could be achieved by free elections, if you decide not to recall the dissolved parliament to convene in accordance with article 65 of the Constitution which states:
“The Amir has the right to dissolve the National Assembly by an Amiri decree in which the reasons of the dissolution are explained. The dissolution of the Assembly for a second time and for the same reasons is not allowed. If the Assembly was dissolved, elections for a new Assembly must be held within a period not exceeding two months after the date of the dissolution. If elections were not held during this period, the dissolved Assembly would restore its complete constitutional powers, and shall meet immediately as if the dissolution has not taken place, and shall continue its functions until a new Assembly is elected.”
We are confident and hopeful that you will realize the just demands of this petition. We have aimed at encouraging the completion of the structure of our young state, and at offering assistance to your wise leadership on the basis of justice, consultation and faith in the strong foundations which were laid down by our Islamic religion and which had been adopted by your blessed wisdom as stated in the Constitution of our dear Country.
May God keep you for us and grant you health and strong will. May God guide us all to what is good.
Signed by the following leading personalities and circulated for public collection of signatures:
1. Dr. Abdul Latif Al-Mahmmod, University Professor
2. Abdul Amir Al-Jamri, Ex-MP and Religious Scholar
3. Mohammed Jaber Al-Sabah, Ex-MP
4. Isa Abdulla Al-Joder, Religious Scholar
5. Ahmed Isa Al-Shamlan, Lawyer
6. Abdul Wahhab Hussain Ali, Educational Supervisor
7. Ali Qassim Rabea, Ex-MP and General Manager
8. Hesham Abdul Malik Al-Shehabi, Engineer
9. Dr. Abdul Aziz Hasan Ubol, Manager
10. Ibrahim Seyid Ali Kamal-u-Din, Marketing Officer
11. Dr. Moneera Ahmed Fakhroo, University Professor
12. Saeed Abdulla Asbool, Engineer
13. Abdulla Mohammed Saleh Al-Abbasi, Journalist
14. Abdulla Mohammed Rashid, Employee
The historic Popular Petition was countered by the Ruling Family as follows:
The first sheet of signatures contained the above fourteen names. In less than two months the sponsors managed to collect 25,000 signatures from the public in support of the demands stated in the petitin. This is a very large number compared to Bahrain’s native population (around 400,000), bearing in mind that in 1973 the electorates numbered 17,000. The ruling Al-Khalifa family was angered by this inforamal refrendum and hence ordered its security forces to mount an attack against a section of Bahrain society (Shia Community) with the aim of dividing the national consensus and derailing the peaceful opposition.
The security forces targeted the Shia Community believing that they would be supported by regional and super powers. The assumption is that it will be possible to link the Shia elements of the opposition to Iran. This would gurantee US support as a result of the bad Iran-US realtions and would enable the ruling family to frighten the Sunni Community. Months after months the security forces persisted in their attacks on the Shia residential areas igniting the longest uprising in Bahrain history. The broadly-based opposition remained loyal to its constitutional principles based on national consensus. Amongst the main sufferers of the above signatories are:
1. Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri: (Islamist/Shia) Jailed on 1 April 1995, released on 25 September 1995 and re-detained on 21 January 1996.
2. Abdul Wahab Hussain:(Islamist/Shia) Jailed in March 1995, released in mid August 1995, re-detained on 14 January 1996.
3. Saeed Al-Asbool: (Nationalist/Shia) Sacked from his position as an engineering manager (ministry of works) in November 1994.
4. Dr. Monira Fakhroo: (Nantionalist/Sunni) Sacked from her university position in August 1995.
5. Ahmad Al-Shamlan: (Nationalist/Sunni) Arrested in February 1996 and kept for two months.
6. Sheikh Isa Al-Joder: (Islamist/Sunni) Prevented from leading prayers in any mosque
7. Dr. Abdul Latif Al-Mahmood:(Islamist/Sunni) Remained out of his university work until recently
“Committee for Popular Petition” issues a historic statement
Events in our country (Bahrain) have recently been escalated as a result of the political crisis reaching a dead end. The escalation came as an inevitable result of foreign pressure imposed by some countries on the government of Bahrain. Such pressure comes whenever there looms in the horizon a rational understanding between the government and the opposition seeking political reforms. The latter’s objectives do not go beyond the return to 1973 constitution, the reinstatement of suspended articles and restoration of the legislature (National Assembly) through election as was specified by the constitution of the country.
We have evidence that severe foreign pressure has been brought about on our country’s government which resulted in sacrificing public freedoms, preventing the raising of any voice calling for the return to democracy and neglecting the sacrifices of the people of Bahrain which prove their loyalty and honesty for the constitutional legitimacy as represented by the present governing system. On the basis of this constitutional legitimacy, broadly-based groups took the initiative to address the problem with the political leadership, by submitting two petitions. The first was submitted on 15 November 1992 and the second one is still waiting for the appropriate time for submission which the events have made difficult. These events inflicted grave damages to the homeland and to the democratic reform process which has no other aim but to restore the 1973 constitution.
The delegation (responsible for submitting the petition) was not given the opportunity or channel of communication to establish dialogue with the political leadership.Our country and people have suffered immensely for more than a year as a result of the closure of channels of dialogue and the spread of violence waves (from whichever source) that have no justification and which have been rejected and condemned.
Several outsiders have meddled and complicated the crisis by holding the patronizing view that it is too much for Bahrainis to have an elected parliament and to enjoy political freedom based on civil society concepts and bound by constitutional legitimacy.Every misery and pain the country suffered for more than a year had never been expected. Also no one expected the “invention” of a dramatic end full of frustrations and ridicules.
The mass Arab media intervened without mentioning for once that there is a problem caused by the suspension of constitution. The parliament was suspended twenty years ago and no one is allowed to call for its return. Instead of mentioning this fact, the untruthful Arab media spoke about a “conspiracy” staged by preachers in mosques instigating violence. The conversion of truth by Arab media resulted in the false accusation of respected religious scholars who have been calling for calm and have requested the public to abide by law and to stick to legitimate means for restoring the parliament.
The question is now raised about the rationale behind this intentional media attack. Those with a conscience are asking who benefits from falsifying events by Arab media. Why did they falsify the legitimate and peaceful demands of our people? Who benefits from the competition of Arab governments to support the suppression and confiscation of freedoms (in Bahrain)? Why do not these ever give an advise (to the government of Bahrain) to put an end to the policy of punishing those who demand their rights? On the contrary, we see them attacking our dear friends in Kuwait who supported our legitimate demands through a letter they submitted to HH the Amir of the State of Bahrain calling on him to listen to the just demands of people. What do these media attacks and supports of Arab media and governments mean?
The Committee of the Popular Petition denounces falsifying charges against respected religious scholars and our colleagues in the Committee who were detained administratively and the Committee denounces those who imply that there is a link between these jailed opposition figures and some foreign countries. These attempts have one aim: to divert attention of the world public opinion from the reality of the political crisis.
The reality is that there exists in Bahrain a broadly-based national opposition and all these maneuvers are aimed at obstructing the path for achieving its legitimate demands. This is the same crisis which the government attempted to solve by speaking to what was known as the Group of the Initiative (Sheikh Al-Jamri and his colleagues) and this is why some of this group were freed (last August and September) and allowed to travel abroad to calm the opposition outside the country. This confirms that there is a political crisis more than being a security problem or acts of violence.
The Committee of the Popular Petition, while denouncing violence and security abuses, urges all people of conscience in the world to intervene for putting an end to the escalating cycle of terror which primarily aims at extinguishing calls for restoring the Bahraini constitution and National Assembly. We also urge all honest people in the world to do their best to convince the political leadership in Bahrain to initiate dialogue, to release the political prisoners and to save the country from possible disasters.
Let’s go forward with our national unity which characterize our experienced people. Let’s declare our total rejection of violence from whatever source and under any pretext. Let’s call for the abolition of all measure that prevent citizens from returning to their home and let’s call for the release of all political prisoners.
We hope that normal peaceful life would return to our country and amongst our people after this critical and testing period so that our great people continue with their civilized and distinguished contributory role.
The Committee of the Popular Petition (CPP)
Issued in Bahrain on 3 February 1996
(Note the CPP was formed in October 1994 comprising all tendencies and sections of Bahrain society. They included Shia Islamists such as Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri and Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain both of whom are in jail now, Sunni Islamists such as Dr. Abdul Latif Al-Mahmood and Sheikh Isa Al- Joder, and patriotic activists such Mr. Ahmad Al-Shamlan and Mr. Saeed Al-Asbool. The CPP and its supporters gathered 25,000 signatures from the public in support of the petition calling for restoration of the constitution and parliament dissolved in 1975)
Arresting Ahmad Al-Shamlan
The ruling Al-Khalifa family ordered the arrest of the distinguished lawyer Mr. Ahmad Al-Shamlan on 7 February. The ruling family accused the leading campaigner of “assisting sabotage”. Mr. Al-Shamlan was released two months later.
A hundred and seven personalities inside Bahrain issued a statement on 5 March protesting against the arrest of Mr. Ahmad Al-Shamlan.
“On 7 February 1996, at 5.00 am, the Bahraini security authorities arrested the lawyer and journalist Mr. Ahmad Isa Al-Shamlan, who is one of the members of the Committee for Popular Petition (CPP). The CPP is responsible for the petition that was signed by 25,000 citizens calling for the restoration of 1973 constitution, return of parliamentary life, public freedoms, granting the Bahraini women the right to elect and nominate and allowing exiles to return home. Mr. Al-Shamlan is a known activist for human rights and one who always volunteered to peacefully solve social and political problems that affect the homeland. Therefore, it is surprising that he had been accused of “agitating for violence, igniting fires and contacting outside terrorist organizations”.
The defender of human rights and the rejecter of violence can not be transformed to an agitator for violence, arson and sabotage. All what he wrote and all what he stated and signed are evidences proving his national, democratic and peaceful approach for reforms.
We as patriotic democrats affirm our rejection for violence from what ever source and call for the release of Mr. Ahmad Al-Shamlan and all political detainess, and call for allowing exiles to return so that they can practice their rights to live on their homeland and to open the channels of democratic dialogue and exchange of views that will save our country from the evils of disunity and hatred and will guarantee the national unity for a dignified and secure life”.
Bahrain: The Petition Submitted in April 1995 by Pro-Democracy Activists
We the undersigned, as citizens and democrats, and on the basis of our responsibility for the motherland, its people, stability, security and sovereignty, call for (as we did in previous occasions) the reactivation of the constitution that was ratified by the Constituent Assembly (which comprised the representatives of the people) and as had been approved by His Highness the Amir in December 1973. The approval of the latter initiated a modern Arab-Islamic and independent state based on democratic system and popular authority. The constitution laid down the principles for all citizens to participate in the running of public affairs and guaranteed their political rights.
For all the above, we stress the urgency of restoring democracy to the country by reactivating the constitution and parliament through peaceful and open means. By this, the national unity will be preserved and viable solutions will be worked out for all our problems and it will be possible to preserve the achievements of both the people and the government.
We look forward for and call on all honourable citizens with all their affiliations and sects to work together in solidarity for this noble cause.
Signed by: Mohammed Jaber Al-Sabah, Ahmed Isa Al-Shamlan, Rashid Hasan Al-Thawadi, Mohammed Al-Sayed Yousif, Mohammed Abdul Rahman Al-Thekair, Abdulla Abdul Rahaman Jasim, Dr. Monira Ahmad Fakhroo, Dr. Khawla Matar, Abdul Wahab Hasan Amin, Sabeeka Al-Najjar, Farid Ramadhan, Fawzeya Mohammed Al-Sanadi, Hasan Ahmad Bedaiwi, Hasan Ahmad Bedaiwi, Ahmad Mansoor Ali, Ibrahim Sharif Al-Sayed Abdul Rahim, Mohsin Hamid Marhoon, Mahmood Ali Hafedh, Abdull Majid, Sanad Ali Al-Hammad, Omran Abbas Salman, Rashid Hamad Al-Jar, Ibrahim Ahmad Isa, Salwa Mohammed Jabir, Ghassan Al-Shehabi, Abdul Rahman Ahmad Othman, Yousif Al-Hamdan, Aziza Hamad Al-Bassam, Mohammed Al-Halwachi, Abdulla Seyadi, Khadija Ali Saeed, Aisha Matar (and 250 other leading activists).
Go Back to Background Information