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5 Dec 97: Bahrain Uprisin: 3 Years Old

When Bahrain’s security forces decided to attack the residential areas on 5 December 1994 in a “show of force”, they never anticipated the resilience and strength of resistance of the Bahraini people. In October 1994 the broadly-based pro-democracy movement collected 25,000 signatures from the public in support of a petition demanding the restoration of the dissolved parliament and rule of constitutional law. These three years have founded a new history for Bahrain. The three years have demonstrated to the world how civilised the people of Bahrain are.

The popular movement in Bahrain has survived the most hostile internal and external environments. Awareness of, and belief in, natural and civil rights have been solidly deepened amongst the population. The internally-led and home-grown movement is the only one of its kind in the Middle East that brought together Islamists and secularists on the basis of a moderate agenda. This moderate agenda was formulated by the various political forces inside and outside the country. Its pillars were and remain: national consensus and constitutional framework.

It is this approach that angered the ruling establishment in Bahrain. The tribal government strove to divert the process by attacking one section of the society and by accusing this section of receiving backing from a foreign country and a foreign organisation. The pro-democracy movement appreciates the complex local and regional situations, and had guarded its independent and national approach, thus defying all the odds and all government’s attempts.

The government of Bahrain has shown total disregard to the interests of the citizens, the country and the region. It preached and practised racism and sectarianism on a scale unprecedented in modern history of Bahrain and the region. The government’s forces tortured to death and killed by bullets 35 citizens. Not a single torturer or killer has been brought to justice. Members of the ruling Al-Khalifa family, working as state security judges, arbitrarily sentenced than 450 citizens to death, life imprisonment, long terms and fines of millions of dollars. More than 10,000 people have been detained during the last three years. At any time there are 1500-2000 detainees in some 27 detention centres and jails. More than 500 citizens have been injured by security forces. More than 800 houses, cars and private properties have been damaged by security forces during the implementations of collective punishment programmes. Mosques and religious places are continually attacked and ransacked. More than 40,000 people have been imported into Bahrain for changing the demography of the country. The University of Bahrain as well as the high offices of the State have been subjected to ethnic cleansing.

Despite all these vicious policies, the pro-democracy movement consolidated its national and independent approach. The uprising has strengthened the resolve of the people to continue the civilised struggle against outdated policies. All attempts by the government to run away from the political agenda set out by the opposition has failed. The future can never be for despots who ignore laws of history.



Dec 97, Third anniversay

Injustice equals instability

Arbitrary governance is a means of corruption

Over the past two decades, the name of “Bahrain” has become synonymous with torture, oppression, and tyranny. It also became a metaphor for injustice and “corrupted regimes”. Despite its relegation to the periphery of the world concerns, Bahrain remains a critical setting for issues of stability and peace in the Gulf.

Bahrain, in the past three years exhibited a disturbing tapestry of artificially induced demographic changes, economic corruption and mismanagement, environmental destruction, eroding all margins of freedom of press and expression, tampering with the public educational sector, recurring government confrontations with the citizens, and systematic violation of human rights.

The adoption of a legislation such as the State Security Law, which empowers the minister of interior to order the administrative detention of any person for the period of three years without judicial review has never solved political issues. The State Security Court empowered with special proceedings deprived defendants from all constitutional guarantees for fair trials.

The systematic use of torture against detainees and prisoners continued despite the absolute prohibition of torture

by both national constitution and international conventions. This fact has been documented by many independent sources. In Bahrain, the use of torture in state security related cases is systematic and commonplace especially during the pre-trial phase. This is used for extracting confessions from suspects and for venting hatred.

At a time when dictatorships and their “captive nations” are on the decline around the world, the rulers of Bahrain find themselves marching against the tide of history. The Bahraini government reacted in a reckless manner to all human rights observers and campaigners. For example, it ordred its press to insult distingushed people, like the Euro MP Stan Newens. When the UK Minister, Derek Fatchett, urged the officials to allow Amnesty International an access to Bahrain, a government’s spokesman went on record to say that “Amnesty International visited Bahrain and were very happy with the situation”. This is taking place at a time when Amnesty had been asking for access to the country for more than five years without any response from the government.

On 16 December 1997, British parlimantarians addressed a press conference and exposed the atrocities of the regime. Later on in the evening, members of the opposition gathered in front of the Dorchester Hotel in Central London, where the Bahraini Embassy was holding a reception. The two events raised the voice of the people of Bahrain. They demanded freedom in Bahrain, civil liberties and human rights, serious dialogue with opposition, and the return of all the exiles.

Bahrain is now fully controlled by arbitrary rule. Such rule is conducted through “royal” decrees, made without reference to truly representative legislative assembly or to public opinion and enforced in complete disregard to Bahrain constitution and international conventions. Both legislative power and judiciary are fully absorbed into the executive structure of the state. The doctrine or rule of constitutional law does not exist in Bahrain. In fact, law in Bahrain is nothing more than what unaccountable officials practice. This unaccountable practice is then codified by royal decrees and published in the Official Gazette. The appalling consequences of arbitrary rule are corruption, repression, forcible exiling, unjust imprisonment, unfair courts without appeals, torture, and killing for citizens whose crimes are nothing more than their disagreement with the regime and their demands for political rights.

The Bahraini ruling elite is becoming a destabilizing factor in a vitally strategic region and has never ceased attempting to widen discrimination and dictatorship. Today’s Bahrain is nothing other than a military and security-based self-serving bureaucracy. Military officers have turned the University of Bahrain into controlled barracks that are subjected to ethnic cleansing in a way similar to the political direction adopted in Bahrain’s security and defence services. Mosques and religious places have been attacked and confiscated by the state for the first time in Bahrain’s history. A council of handpicked stooges was named to rubber stamp official decision to close religious places and to detain citizens attending these places. All foreign journalists and correspondents have been kicked out of Bahrain. The national newspapers have been handed to people who share corruption with the appointing officials. Lawyers have been intimidated and threatened of revenge. Business community is being sidelined. The entire system is being overturned to serve the arbitrary wishes of the few who depends on shear force to intimidate the population.

Practicing injustice can never establish political stability. For this reason the pro-democracy movement continues to strive for the constitutional rights of the nation and continues to call on the international community to help bring pressure to bear on the ruling Al-Khalifa family to stop repressing the Bahraini people. This is the shortest and surest path to true stability. The Bahraini ruling establishment ought to learn a lesson from all those who refused to give in to modest demands only to find themselves in the dustbin of history.


Dec 97: Third Anniversary

Home Thought:

The past twenty-two years have conditioned many people to view Bahrain in the context of, and indeed, as a synonym for perpetual turbulence. On several occasions during this period, events in Bahrain briefly grabbed world attention. The rest of the time, however, the country experienced a ferocity that was barely felt beyond its borders. At the centre of the past decades events is the 1975 suspension of parliament and the consequent implementation of the State Security Law.

Since the advent of the Popular Petition of 1994, the Bahrain government sought with perseverance to create an image of a Shiite-led violent movement intent on overthrowing the regime. The allergic reaction which the ruling regime developed to anything related to Shiites of Bahrain has precluded any serious policy of engagement in peaceful settlement.

Yet the “Bahrain Factor” for peace in the region is important in itself, and continues to play a crucial role in any prospective regional arrangement. No real durable settlement in the region can indefinitely postpone addressing the issue of Bahrain. By the same token, Bahrain’s realistic hope of eventual recovery from the ravages of prolonged suffering lies firmly embedded in restoring the rule of constitutional law. The issue is therefore how would Bahrainis regain their dwindling personal and communal freedoms and how would these be balance with the the overall requirements for regional peace.

Small and “Fragile” are usually foremost among the many adjectives used to describe Bahrain and, on the whole, Bahrain has always exhibited these two traits. In describing constituent components, however, one can add irreducibility, since Bahrain is essentially a collection of about nine religious communities (divided roughly into Shiites and Sunnis) that have demonstrated a remarkable resilience and durability throughout often turbulent history. These communities have strove to forge a degree of collective identity without compromising their distinctive and autonomous communal features. In the best times, a uniquely consociational version of democracy has emerged – something rare in the region – which has conferred upon Bahrain a well earned respect of the world community. Bahrain continue to demand its rightful attention within the Gulf region. It is unfortuante that the ruling elite cab not identify with the nation’s aspirations. Situated, as it is, in the middle of the Gulf, the notion of quarantining it to fester in isolation no longer applies.


5 December 1996: The Bahrain Uprising: Two Years Old

The ruling Al-Khalifa tribe is attempting to divert attention from the internal political crisis by mounting a media war against Qatar. Puppets of the government in the press were ordered to write editorials and articles in an attempt to change the core issue that concerns the people of Bahrain, namely the demands for the restoration of constitutional law in the country.

The ruling family, all of a sudden, invited the public to visit Hawar, virtually, free of charge. They have also announced that sports tournament will be organized in Hawar. The crown prince and the prime minister have been quarreling amongst themselves for the private ownership of the islands. Um-Na’san, Jedda and Um-Subban have been occupied by the Amir, the prime minister and their younger brother, respectively. The Crown prince rushed and built a palace for himself in the main island of Hawar, at the same time the prime minister had expressed his intention to name the islands after himself.

The people of Bahrain, nonetheless, have their own issues to worry about. The period 5-20 of December will be commemorated by the people of Bahrain. It will be two years since the ruling family decided to shoot and kill the citizens of the country.

Two years ago the ruling Al-Khalifa family ventured into the unknown when it decided to attack a wide section of Bahrain’s population in an attempt to prevent the submission of the popular petition that was signed by 25,000 citizens calling on the Amir to restore the parliament and constitution. The chronology of the main events are as follows:

October 1994: A popular petition sponsored by all tendencies and sections of Bahrain society is circulated for signing by the public. Some 25,000 names endorse the petition. The ruling Al-Khalifa family refuses to receive the Committee for Popular Petition.

5 December 1994: The security forces singled out Sheikh Ali Salman and arrest him in a dawn raid. Scores of youth were also arrested, thus provoking the first street demonstration to go out on the streets to demand the release of Sheikh Ali Salman and other activists. The ruling family ordered its security forces to attack the Shia population only, so that a sectarian image may be created with the hope of gaining the sympathy of the Western powers. The assumption is that the Al-Khalifa will be attempting to link the Shia population to outside influences, namely Iran. And because of the bad US-Iran relations continues to be the feature of regional politics, the Al-Khalifa thought that this would be a golden opportunity for them to derail the peaceful, constitutional and broadly-based movement. They miscalculated when the uprising dragged on more than they ever judged.

17 December 1994: The security forces kill the first two martyrs of the uprising, Hani Abbas Khamis and Hani Ahmad Al-Wasti, during their attack on Sanabis.

20 December 1994: A third martyr, Haji Mirza Ali Abdul-Redha, falls during an attack by the foreign forces on a mosque in Jedhafs.

15 January 1995: Three religious scholars, Sheikh Ali Salman (whose detention on 5 December sparked off the protests), Sheikh Hamza Al-Deiri and Seyed Haider Al-Setri, were forcibly exiled. They reached Britain two days later. The Al-Khalifa foreign minister flew to London to request their re-exiling from Britain. He was rebuffed and his hate-based mentality was condemned by the British media.

1 March 1995: Major demonstrations at the end of Ramadan. Eid celebrations canceled.

1 April 1995: Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri, member of the dissolved parliament and member of the Committee for Popular Petition, was put under house arrest.

15 April 1995: Sheikh Al-Jamri was detained

June 1995: The first ministerial changes since independence result in the removal of ministers who are not members of the Al-Khailfa ruling family.

25 September 1995: The release of Sheikh Al-Jamri and his colleagues following an understanding reached with the interior ministry to calm down the situation in return for ending the attacks of security forces and opening the way for political dialogue. Public celebrations take place and street protests end.

23 October 1995: Sheikh Al-Jamri and his colleagues start a 10-day hunger strike in Bani Jamra protesting at the violations of the interior ministry of the understanding reached earlier.

1 November 1995: More than 80,000 people gathered around the house of Sheikh Al-Jamri to listen to the declaration of the hunger strikers. This was the biggest gathering in the history of Bahrain.

November/December 1995: The Al-Khalifa threatens to declare martial law and many military maneuvers were conducted, including experimenting with deploying the army around residential areas.

21 January 1996: Sheikh Al-Jamri and his colleagues together with at least 2 thousand people were rounded-up. Street protests re-surface after a halt of several months.

7 February 1996: The arrest the lawyer Ahmad Al-Shamlan following the issuance of a statement by the Committee for Popular Petition denouncing the arrest of Sheikh Al-Jamri on 3 February. Mr. Al-Shamlan remained in detention for more than 2 months. He was later released so that the strategy of the ruling family stays the same, namely attacking and detaining Shia persons only. Since Mr. Al-Shamlan is a Sunni, he was released later without any charges.

14 March 1996: Mysterious death of seven Bangladeshi persons in a restaurant in Sitra. The opposition cast many doubts as to the real cause of death since five of the seven people worked for the riot police and their bodies suffered no burns. Furthermore the ruling family buried the bodies without allowing any inspection by Bangladeshi embassy officials. The Bangladeshi embassy protested.

20 March 1996: The Amir issued two dictatorial decrees widening the powers of the State Security Court, thus creating four courts, empowering members of the ruling family to pass arbitrarily sentences that can not be appealed on any case the police wishes to refer to them.

26 March 1996: The Amir and his brother the prime minister order the execution of Isa Qambar accused of causing the death of a police man a year ago.

5 May 1996: Protests surge in most places on the 40th day anniversary of the execution of Isa Qambar

6 May 1996: A special unit belonging to the army demolished a house in Sanabis killing a father, a mother and their son. Salman Al-Taitoon, his wife Fadhila Al-Motgawwi and their son Ali all were killed instantly. The house was demolished by special devices that brought down the house without creating any fire. The house rubble was cleared by the security forces in a record 48 hours (while all those places that caught fire remain without clearance for months). The ruling family had earlier warned that unless protests stop they will “wipe-out villages”. Many editorials in Al-Ayyam and Akhbar Al-Khalij stated this warning.

3 June 1996: The ruling family announced that it discovered an Iranian-backed plot to topple the regime and six persons were forced to appear on TV to read prepared statements.

1 July 1996: A state security court passed death sentences against three innocent citizens accusing them of causing the death of the seven Bangladeshi persons on 14 March.

15 August 1996: the 25th anniversary of independence was ignored by the ruling family, but the opposition celebrates the occasion.

1 October 1996: the prime minister recruits 40 persons for the powerless Shura Council and re-affirms his intentions to divide Bahrain into four security zones.

October 1996: Protests in all uprising areas resurface and surge to their peak towards the end of the month.

15 November 1996: The Amir refuses to meet with the representatives of the Committee for Popular Petition. Four representatives requested a meeting to submit the historic petition. Instead, the head of prime minister office telephoned the representatives and threatened them that they will not return home if they attempt to visit the palace of the Amir.

Since 5 December 1994:

* 29 citizens were killed or tortured to death by the security forces

* 9 expatriate died during the events

* 4 security men died during clashes

* More than 250 people (since 4 December 1994) arbitrarily sentenced with fines reaching millions of dollars

* Scores of citizens have been disabled

* Hundreds have been injured

* Scores dismissed from their jobs

* Scores forcibly-exiled from their homeland

* More than 5,000 people were detained

* For the first time women have been arrested and some of them were stripped naked during interrogation

* Prisoners, especially children have been indecently assaulted (sexually abused) during detention

* Education sector has been militarized. Military men were put in charge of the education ministry, the university of Bahrain and other key posts. Racism, tribalism and sectarianism have been vigorously implemented in all governmental key appointments


5 December 1995: The First Anniversary of the Uprising

Last year, on the 5th of December 1994, the Bahraini security forces conducted one of the worst miscalculated campaigns of oppression. On the dawn of that day, a group of security men raided the flat of Sheikh Ali Salman in Bilad-al-Qadeem and arrested him. Before his arrest, Sheikh Ali Salman and his friends were campaigning for a popular petition sponsored by all tendencies and sections of Bahrain society, calling for the restoration of the parliament and reactivating of the constitution, both by the Amir dissolved in 1975. The security forces thought that attacking pro-democracy activists and creating violent events will enable the government to deviate the legitimate political movement that calls on the ruling Al- Khalifa family to abide by the 1973 constitution. In the week that followed the arrest of Sheikh Salman, people responded by gathering in mosques and public places demanding his immediate release. Few days later, a delegation was formed by religious scholars, amongst them Sheikh Hamza Al-Deiri, who visited the interior minister and submitted the demand for releasing Sheikh Ali Salman. The official response from the minister was that “the State will uphold its supremacy by iron fist”. So on the 12th of December, the government forces attacked the gatherings in Bilad-al-Qadeem and in Makharqah district of Manama.

The country was swept by a popular rapid response, and this time the security forces did not have their way. Foolishly, the security forces starting attacking gatherings and street protests emerged. Both the national day and the GCC Summit were to be held on 16 and 19 December consequently. The people were on the streets and on 17 December the first two martyrs (Hani Abbas Khamis and Hani Al-Wasti) of the uprising fell down in Sanabis and Jedhafs. The Gulf leaders spent their days in the Meridian inhaling the tear gas and unable to conduct their business as live fire and explosions continued throughout the night and day. This heralded the beginning of the greatest popular uprising for political reforms in the history of Bahrain.

The months that followed witnessed a step-by-step exposure of government’s failure to understand the real strength of the Bahraini people. The more they continued to insult the people the more the events continued. On 15 January the interior ministry forcibly deported Sheikh Ali Salman (who was still in jail) together with Sheikh Hamza Al-Deiri and Seyed Heider Al-Setri. The three then arrived in London on 17 March, thus provoking the Bahrain Foreign Minister to travel to London on 27 January, to formally request the British government to expel the three leaders. This move fired back when the opposition leaders held a press conference in the British Parliament on 26 January detailing the demands of the reform movement and atrocities of the security forces.

During the month of Ramadhan (February 1995), the opposition called for calming down the situation to give the government a chance to reconcile itself with the people. Instead, the local and Saudi-financed media launched intimidating attacks on the people of Bahrain. Moreover, the ruling family forced various clubs to write letters of loyalty to the ruling family and declared that the reform movement is foreign-backed. This created a highly-charged atmosphere and the end of Ramadhan (1st March) was declared a day of sadness. Mass demonstrations took to the streets all around the country. Martyrs continued to fall, and for the next two weeks, Bahrain went through the most critical period with clashes proliferating every where. Ordinary people formed voluntary “resistance groups” and clashed with the security forces who ransacked houses and inhumanely killed and injured many citizens. Thousands of Bahrainis were put in make shift camps as jails were by now crowded.

In mid March two leading opposition figures were arrested, Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain and Mr. Hassan Mushaimaa were arrested sparking off more demonstrations and protests. On 1 April, Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri and 18 members of his family were put under house arrest after attacking the village of Bani Jamra and killing two of its people and injuring dozens others. Two weeks later he was transferred to jail. By 8 July the number of martyrs rose to 14 people.

Between April and August, six jailed opposition leaders (led by Sheikh Al-Jamri) held talks with security officials and at the end, the government agreed to releasing around 1000 detainees by end of September in return for establishing calm. Calm was established from the first days the six leaders were released, but the governed failed to honour the agreement. The tense situation returned to the country. To salvage the situation, Sheikh Al-Jamri and six other opposition leaders staged a ten-day hunger strike ending on 1 November. Some 85,000 people gathered in front of Sheikh Al-Jamri to listen to a statement declaring the continuation of peaceful opposition for restoring the rule of constitutional law to the country.

The government made more mistakes and started showing on TV its special military and security units experimenting with breaking-in dummy houses aiming to frighten the public. On the contrary, the people of Bahrain paid no attention to these threats and continued their peaceful opposition process.

The prime minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, was quoted by the Associate Press on the first occasion of the uprising (5 December) saying: “I don’t see a threat to Al Khalifa” and that the “monarchy can survive and will survive”. The stereo-type statement blaming “outside forces” was mixed with another statement saying ” “We are not frightened by an elected assembly.” While the opposition welcomes the latter, the ruling family has yet to prove its credibility by re-activating the constitution. The sentiments of the opposition were publicly aired this evening (5 December) in the main Mo’min mosques in the capital Manama, where tens of thousand of people attanded a mass gathering addressed by opposition leaders calling for the restoration of the parliamentary process.


Bahrain at a Crossroads

The recent crackdown by security forces on the opposition in Bahrain and the threat to deploy the military have brought Bahrain again to the headlines. The Opposition believes it is broadly-based and indigenous. The Government attempted to depict a different picture to avoid any political reform that would make the tribal system accountable.

On 21 January, the leading opposition figure, Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri, was arrested together with seven other leading figures and some two thousand people. Sheikh Al-Jamri and his colleagues were released last year following a deal struck with the Director General of Public Security, Mr Ian Henderson, and the Interior Minister, Sheikh Muhammad bin Khalifa al-Khalifa. The deal included the release of about a thousand detainees by the end of September last year and the initiating of a dialogue on political demands.

The opposition leaders calmed down the situation and street protests ceased shortly after their release. However, the Government refused to release all detainees and instead began again arresting students and teenagers and bringing them before political courts.

As the situation rapidly deteriorated, Sheikh Al-Jamri and his colleagues began a ten-day hunger strike to protest against human rights violations. On the last day of the strike, an estimated 80,000 people gathered outside the Sheikh’s home in support of demands for, among other things, the restoration of Parliament and the release of political prisoners. The Government reacted by closing down mosques, which led to further clashes and the re-arrest of Sheikh Al-Jamri and his colleagues. To justify the crackdown, the ruling family depicted the Opposition as fundamentalists linked to outside forces aiming to destabilise the region. The strategy, however, failed to convince most observers who are aware of the broad-based forum demanding political reforms through a peaceful dialogue.

Bahrain has been ruled by the same dynasty since 1783. Cabinet changes made last June did not affect any of the principal posts and certainly non of the al-Khalifa ministers were changed. Out of eighteen cabinet members, nine are al-Khalifa, dominating the most powerful ministries. The question whether Bahrain can be transformed from a tribal government to a modern state based on the principles of civil society lies at the core of the on-going struggle for democratization of the political system.

In 1971, the ruling family was in need of legitimacy after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom army from the Gulf and the settling down by the United Nations of the Shah of Iran’s claim on Bahrain. Hence, a Constituent Assembly was half-elected in 1972 with the single purpose of approving the country’s first Constitution. In 1973, approval by members of the Assembly and the Amir went ahead and this binding agreement provided for the election of a National Assembly, which lasted between 1973-75. It seems that the al-Khalifas have still failed to comprehend the notion of public accountability.

It is not yet clear whether the al-Khalifas understood the implications of the Constitution when they agreed to it in 1973. In October 1974, the Amir issued a decree in the Official Gazette without debating it in Parliament, despite the fact that the Constitution clearly states that no bill can become law without the approval of both the National Assembly and the Amir. The decree enacted the most inhumane rules, empowering the Interior Ministry to detain political suspects for three years without trial. The Assembly opposed the content of this decree and the way it was issued. The Amir and his brother, the Prime Minister, decided they could do without a parliament.

Since August 1975, Bahrain has been without a legislature. Moreover, Cabinet has subordinated the Judiciary and reduced judges to powerless employees. Almost all other aspects of free society were dealt with in similar fashion: no trade unions, no free press, no freedom of expression or association.

Thus, while Bahrainis have continuously developed their civilized patterns of life, the ruling family has marched backward, claiming that Bahraini society is different from the outside world and thus anybody having a problem can simply visit their highnesses to get problems solved – solutions are discretionary, without accountability or any logical basis for the running of a state. The Opposition has been struggling for the restoration of the National Assembly dissolved in 1975.

In the 1920s, Britain took a progressive step when Major Daley enforced administrative reforms and ended the flagrant feudal system. As a result, Bahrain benefited from an advanced bureaucracy. But this has now grown overweight and corrupt because of political nepotism. Bahrainis have always demanded political reforms to be coupled with administrative ones. But Britain has been mostly unsympathetic. When Britain declared its intention to withdraw militarily from the Gulf, the US stepped in. But Britain still maintains influence and its embassy continues to play a significant role in Bahrain’s politics.

The Bahraini foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak al-Khalifa, visited London early January and later met with the five permanent members of the Security Council in New York requesting these countries to side with his Government’s crackdown on the peaceful opposition. UK officials and some Conservative Members of Parliament have been colluding with the ruling family by trying to justify human rights violations in Bahrain. For instance, Lady Olga Maitland was quoted as saying that “it would be extremely unlikely to expect the systems of government present in the Gulf to have mirrored that in Britain which has evolved over many centuries”. But such statements fail to convince those like Lord Eric Avebury of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, who has stated that “if the rulers are not prepared to make concessions which even Charles I or Louis XVI would have thought reasonable, they will not survive much longer”.

It is now time for reflection and reassessment as change will eventually take place. Let us hope, however, that it will be peaceful, manageable, evolutionary and within a constitutional framework. The alternative may be chaos and disruption.

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