(Ref: SEAN\RC-97\B4-077.97\en)

Tabled on 17 September 1997, Passed on 18 September 1997-09-19


  1. Stanley Newens, on behalf of the PSE Group
  2. Bertens, on behalf of the ELDR Group
  3. Gonzalez Alvarez, Manisco, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group
  4. Gahrton and Mrs Van Dijk, , on behalf of the V Group
  5. Hory, on behalf of the ARE Group

on Human Rights Abuses in Bahrain

The European Parliament:

A. Noting with profound alarm the Report published in June 1997 by Human Rights Watch/Middle East entitled ‘Routine Abuse, Routine Denial: Civil Rights and the Political Crisis in Bahrain, which documents the continuing political crisis in Bahrain, with associated widespread political repression, torture and abuse of detainees, denial of legal representation and reliance for convictions on uncorroborated confessions; and the Amnesty International report of 16 July 1996, which expresses grave concern at continuing human rights abuses in Bahrain and the absence of the protection of due process, and the report by the UK Parliamentary Rights Group;

B. Recalling that the Bahraini parliament was disbanded in 1975 and that the ruling Al-Khalifa family has since resisted all calls for the restoration of democratic and constitutional rule;

C. Recalling that the current political crisis started in the second half of 1994 with widespread demonstrations and petitions calling for the return of constitutional rule, the release of political prisoners and permission to return for hundreds of Bahrainis forcibly exiled or prevented from returning because of their political activities;

D. Observing with deep regret that these moderate demands have been met with arrests, the torture of detainees and wider use of the State Security Court, the procedures of which fall far short of accepted international standards for a fair trial and from which there is no right of appeal, despite the imposition of death sentences;

E. Noting that helicopters and gas supplied from abroad have reportedly been used against civilians;

1. Calls upon the government of Bahrain to release political prisoners, to facilitate the return of exiles and institute due process of law, according to accepted international standards, and to open negotiations with opposition forces immediately, with a view to holding democratic elections, open to all sexes, at the earliest opportunity;

2. Calls upon European Union Member States to refrain from supplying arms or security support to the Government of Bahrain and requests the Council to take initiatives in order to obtain similar restraint at international level until democratic conditions have been restored;

3. Unequivocally condemns all use of unlawful violence, torture and terrorism, whether committed by the security forces or any other agents.

4. Calls upon the Bahraini authorities to admit internationally respected human rights organisations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to the country and allow organisations with similar peaceful democratic concerns to operate in Bahrain.

5. Instructs its President to forward copies of this resolution to the Council and the Commission, to the governments of Member States, to the Secretary General of the United Nations and to the Bahraini Government.

Bahraini paper criticizes Britain’s “crooked method”

The Bahraini newspaper `Al-Ayyam’ has criticized the “crooked methods” used by Western states, particularly Britain, in their approach to “terrorist elements” . It said that Britain was “receiving and caring for terrorist elements, facilitating their movements on British territory, and granting them private passports to facilitate their suspect movements throughout the world in order to create bloody tragedies in several Arab areas”. The paper also specifically condemned British MEP Stanley Newens’s “defence of the crimes committed by terrorist elements in Bahrain” . The commentary said that the days of colonialism were over and Arab countries would not tolerate its return. `Al-Ayyam’, received on 23rd September 1997.

The European Parliament condemned the State Security Law and the British chief of Bahrain security, Mr. Ian Henderson

Resolution (rule 47, ref:B4-208/95/RC,B4-276/95/RC1) passed on February 15, 1995

The European Parliament:

A. Having regard to the repeated protests since 5 Dec 1994, in which large parts of the population have been engaged in peaceful protests expressing demands for the establishment of constitutional democracy, the participation of women in the political process, a solution to unemployment, the release of political and the return of all deportees,

B. Shocked that the Bahrain Government has resorted to the ruthless use of force by the security forces resulting in several deaths, many injuries, the detention of hundreds of persons and the deportation of prominent personalities,

C. Shocked that the security forces in Bahrain are to a large extent directed by a British officer, Ian Henderson,

D. Stressing that the Government of Bahrain resorted to the Decree Law on State Security of 22 October 1974, which entitles the Minister of the Interior to detain political suspects for up to three years without trial; recalling that the [BAHRAINI] National Assembly, dissolved in 1975, refused to pass the State Security Law and that, since required their approval under the constitution, the State Security Law is of doubtful legality,

F. Shocked by the deaths which have resulted from this repression, and from the repeated opening of fire on crowds of civilians,

G. Shocked by the fact that families and lawyers of those injured or detained were not allowed to visit them in hospitals or in prison,

H. Alarmed by the numerous reports of torture of prisoners, which in the case of Mr. Husain Qambar was fatal, and the dismissal of Dr. Habib Traif and his Irish wife from the military hospital for giving medical treatment to wounded people in their home,

I. Believing that the only motive for this wave of repression is the anger of the authorities that a petition calling for the restoration of the constitution suspended in 1975 was sponsored by 14 people representing both the Shia and Sunni communities and secularists, and was signed by a woman, Dr. Munira Fakhro, represnting the movement for women’s rights,

1. Affirms its full support for the people of Bahrain who are demonstrating for their political, economic and social rights.

2. Condemns the attitude of the security forces to the demonstrations and demands that the Government release all political prisoners.

3. Further demands that the Government of Bahrain declares its commitment to the restoration of the constitution and to holding free and fair general elections, and to abolish the State Security Law and other articles of laws restricting liberties and human rights.

4. Demands that an independent inquiry be instigated into allegations of murder and torture.

5. Call on the Bahraini Government to allow the hundreds of Bahrainis, deported or living in exile for political reasons, to return to their native land. 6. Call on the British Government to order Ian Henderson to leave Bahrain.

7. Instructs [the European Parliament’s] President to froward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the Government of Bahrain, and the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council”

From: Stan Newens, Member of the European Parliament

(London Central, 92 Ladbroke Grove, London W11 2HE, UK. Tel: 0171 221 0092. Fax: 0171 792 3691)

14 October 1997

To: Nabil Al-Hamar Fax: 00 973 729009 Editor-in-Chief Al-Ayyam P.O.Box 3232 Manama

State of Bahrain

Cc: His Highness Shaikh ‘Issa Bin Salman Al Khalifa
Cc:Mohammed Al-Mutawaa, Minister of Information

Dear Mr Nabil Al-Hamar,

In the text of its commentary on the current crisis in Bahrain and relations with Britain on 23rd September 1997 Al Ayyam states the following:

“By providing support, protection and facilities to the Arab and Gulf terrorist elements, Britain has embarked on a very serious move regarding Bahrain through British Member of [the European] Parliament Stanley Newens’ defence of crimes committed by terrorist elements in Bahrain”.

This relates to the motion on human rights abuses in Bahrain, passed by the European Parliament on the 18th September.

In the first place, the motion was promoted by Members of the European Parliament including me, as the person who wrote the original draft. It was most certainly not promoted by Britain or the British authorities.

In the second place, in no way could it be construed that I was defending “crimes committed by terrorist elements in Bahrain”.

The Resolution states that Parliament:

“unequivocally condemns all use of unlawful violence, torture and terrorism, whether committed by the security forces or any other agents”. (paragraph 3).

In my speech, I said:

“It is of course true that some of the discontent generated in the tense atmosphere created has taken violent forms. We in the European Parliament do not support in any way acts of terrorist, bombing, or attempts by Islamic fundamentalists, for example, to limit the freedom of women.”

Our concern, as democrats and defenders of human rights, is that the people of Bahrain should, by peaceful means, regain the right to elect representatives to the National Assembly as provided by the Constitution of Bahrain and that the human rights of all Bahraini citizens should be fully safeguarded.

Yours sincerely,

Stan Newens

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