Bahrain case at the UN Commission on Human Rights

The UN Commission on Human Rights, 56th session, listened to an intervention delivered on 29 March by Dr. Charles Grave of Interfaith International.

The UN Commission debated the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the world by hearing statements by representatives of States and non-governmental organisations. Speakers decried human rights violations in many countries and urged the Commission to continue to adopt resolutions on countries, which violated fundamental freedoms. Dr. Graves stated that “The human rights situation in Bahrain was worrying, including long and irregular administrative detentions.” His intervention included the following text:

“Mr. Chairman, the situation in Bahrain continues to preoccupy our organisation. The latest information received indicates that on 25 March this year the Ministry of the Interior released 24 citizens held in custody, including Mr, Omran Hussain Omran, Sheikh Mohammed al-Rayyash and Mr. Ibrahism Hassan Jassim, all of whom had been hold in administrative detention for more than four year.

The case of Mr. Jassim illustrates the sad situation of violation of human rights in Bahrain he was detained in December 1994 and them held for three years without charges. At the completion of his first batch of three years he was released for one night only, then taken back into prison for under two and a half years detention.

Sheikh Mohammed Al-Rayyash was detained in December 1995 and was subjected to various forms of torture. His only crime seems to have been leading prayers in a mosque which the Ministry of Interior wished to control because of certain persons who prayed inside it. Sheikh spoke against the governments action against places of worship, and as a result he ended up in administrative detention for more than four years.

According to information received at the international Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) another detainee in Bahrain the pro-democracy leader Abdul Wahab Hussain, was released from prison in Bahrain, on 17 March this year, having spent already three years in detention for his activities. On 14 March a High Court judge ordered his release, but only a few hours after being release, he was again imprisoned apparently for another period of three years, in accordance with the 1974 State Security Law which allows for maximum administrative detention of three years according to information received by OMCT, Mr. Hussain was pressured by the security officers to sign a statement apologising for his actions and to promise not to undertake any further act calling for political reforms.

Mr. Chairman, we note that the visit to Bahrain of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention which was to have taken place in October last year has again been delayed, upon the request of the Bahrain authorities, until 2001. On the other hand Mr. Chairman, irregular detentions continue to exist in Bahrain, and our organisation supports a speedy and thorough visit of the Working Group to Bahrain as soon as possible. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”

Bahrain Freedom Movement

30 March 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089


Bahrain: No rights for Bahraini workers; Pseudo-names exposed

A court ruled last Saturday that more than 200 Bahraini employees of Gulf Air have no rights for compensation. The employees wee dismissed in an arbitrary manner without prior consultation or representation. Bahrainis are denied their right for trade unions and have no protection under the unconstitutional law imposed on the country. The same court had earlier banned local press from publishing anything about the case. Ali Saleh, a columnist in the daily Akhbar al-Khaleej enquired why had such a ban been imposed.

The right to unionise has been confiscated by the Al-Khalifa government since the late 1950s. When Bahraini demanded to have their elected trade unions in the early 1970s, they were crushed mercilessly. The government created a powerless committee as a window-dressing. However, even this committee was subjected to restriction and repression. Late last year, the offices of the committee were raided by the security forces and many of its files and equipment were taken away for investigation.

Pursuing its new approach for misinformation, the intelligence department recruited several Arab people in the press community in London. These (Egyptians, Iraqis and Palestinians amongst others) have been paid to write letters and articles with pseudo-names to support the dictatorial government. One such pseudo-name that apeared regularly is “Hussain Shaaban Abdul Hussain”. This pseudo-name is similar to that of Dr. Abdul Hussain Shaaban, the head of the Arab Human Rights Organisation in London. Dr. Shaaban published a statement clarifying that the pseudo-name is not related to him and enquired about the true identity of this person. The case of the Bahraini people is so strong that mercenaries of all types have failed in their endeavours.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

29 March 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089

Bahrain: Released people speak of pain, while the government attempts to delay an inspection visit by a UN Working Group

On 25 March, the interior ministry released 24 citizens. Amongst those released were Mr. Omran Hussain Omran, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Rayyash and Mr. Ibrahaim Hassan Jassim who had been in administrative detention for more than four years. Eleven of those released were teenagers who were detained in the Dry-Dock camp. The camp is more like a concentration camp created by the Al-Khalifa family for isolating the youths of a section of Bahrain community who are discriminated against in all walks of life.

The government-controlled newspapers published quotes from the wronged citizens. One of the people who had been quoted is Ibrahim Hassan Jassim. The case of Mr. Jassim brings together the sad situation of Bahrain. He was detained in December 1994 at the onset of the uprising that flared up during that month. He was then held for three years without charges. At the completion of his first batch of three years he was released for one-night only, then taken back for another 2.5 years detention.

Similarly, Mr. Omran Hussain Omran was detained administratively for most of the past five years. One of his “crimes” is being the next-door neighbour of Sheikh Al-Jamri. He is a well-known social figure who had always been targeted by the interior ministry. He came out of an Al-Khalifa detention centre to return to a quarter in Bani Jamra which has been under siege since the release of Sheikh Al-Jamri last July.

Sheikh Mohammed Al-Rayyash was detained in December 1995 and had been subjected to various forms of torture. The controlled media accused him of many things during the government-sponsored hate-based campaign of 1996. Sheikh Al-Rayyash’s only crime had been to lead prayers in a mosque which the interior ministry wanted to control through constant attacks on the people who prayed inside it. Sheikh Al-Rayyash spoke against those atrocities committed by the government’s forces against places of worship and as a result he ended up in administrative detention for more than four years.

It is worth noting that the delegation representing the Al-Khalifa government in Geneva proposed to the “UN Working Group on Administrative Detention” to delay an already delayed inspection visit to Bahrain until April 2001. The visit was supposed to have taken place last October, but the delegation requested a delay. It was then agreed to delay the visit until October 2000, but the Al-Khalifa delegation requested this month that such a visit be delayed again until April next year. The UN Working Group rejected the request and matters have been put on hold. It is believed that the delegation will play for time and will search for all means to escape an inspection visit (to the prisons) by the UN Working Group.

The Al-Khalifa government has failed to mention anything about the fate of the pro-democracy figure, Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain who was released for one hour on 17 March before being re-detained.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

26 March 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089


Bahrain: More greed and abuse from unaccountable Al-Khalifas

The Geneva-based UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination questioned the torturer Abdulaziz Attiat Allah Al-Khalifa about his family’s discrimination against the people of Bahrain. The UN Committee considered the submission of the Al-Khalifa government, which is 8 years behind schedule, as lacking any evidence of implementation. The Al-Khalifa delegation composed of informers working for the interior ministry, such as Salman Al-Zayyani.

Bahrain ratified the anti-discrimination treaty in 1990 but the Al-Khalifa government never submitted any report before this year. Abdulaziz Al-Khalifa said his government lacked human resources to produce the reports. He was questioned why are top positions in Bahrain are reserved for the Al-Khalifa family. He failed to answer this and other questions relating to his family’s discrimination against several sections of Bahrain’s society, and the lack of any evidence that discrimination does not exist in Bahrain. He was told to bring evidence to show how the clauses of the treaty are implemented in Bahrain.

Attempting to cover-up his failure, the torturer ordered one of his accompanying informers to write an article in Al-Ayyam of 23 March claiming that the Al-Khalifa were given a clean bill of health by the UN committee.

Meanwhile, in Bahrain, the Al-Khalifas were continuing their onslaught on public properties and country’s wealth. Bulldozers in Duraz started removing tonnes of sand that are transported to Jedda Island which had been confiscated by the prime minister over a decade ago. Most Bahrain’s islands are confiscated by senior members of Al-Khalifa family for selfish exploitation. The bulldozers are supposedly constructing headquarters for Abdul Rahman bin Sagher Al-Khalifa (a security officer) who was appointed as a “governor” of the Northern region.

Moreover, local papers said that a house that was occupied by Isa bin Ali Al-Khalifa (who ruthlessly ruled Bahrain between 1869 – 1923) will be converted into a palace and the surrounding people and properties will be removed to make way for this useless project. The aim is to create an extra palace in memory of a person who had oppressed the nation. The people of Bahrain are wondering about the reason behind the recent upsurge in greediness and abuse of wealth and power that can not be rationally explained.

On 22 March, the mercenary forces attacked Bahrainis in Karzakkan and arbitrarily detained Mohammed Baqir Al-Meraj, 17, Jaffer Mohammed Hassan, 25, Basim Ibrahim Yaquob, 18, Taha Jassim Makki, 18, Mohammed Mahdi, 18, and Mohammed Saleh Khalaf, 18. On 21 March, a group of mercenaries belonging to the so-called “Bahrain Defence Force” attacked a citizen in Karzakkan, Abdulla Saleh, 32. The gang surrounded the citizen and started beating him savagely without any reason. Similarly, several attacks and arrests were reported in Sanabis. The two areas are some of those being discriminated against by the Al-Khalifa family.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

25 March 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089


Bahrain: Feudalism in the 3rd Millennium

The clock was further turned back in Bahrain with the announcement that another member of the Al-Khalifa ruling family (who is also a security officer) had been appointed a “governor” for the Northern region. The Al-Khalifa family divided the country into four regions in 1996 and up until today they appointed three of their number as “governors”. The three Al-Khalifas are all security officers who had been responsible for oppression and repression.

Abdul Rahman bin Sagher Al-Khalifa was appointed as a “governor” for the Northern region, and at the same time bulldozers were put in action for constructing a governor’s headquarters in Duraz.

Before 1923, members of the Al-Khalifa family distributed Bahrain amongst themselves in the form of “estates”. Each Al-Khalifa member used to subjugate the people in his own way as he wished. Bahrainis had hoped that the 21st century would have a reforming effect on the Al-Khalifa family, but all indications are not yet positive.

Another career development was announced for Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, who in 1998 was made an acting head of the intelligence department. The title of “acting head” was embarrassing for Al-Khailfa when visiting another country and hence another title was given to him on 22 March “Assistant Under-secretary of the Interior Ministry for Security”. Ian Henderson and Thomas Bryan remain in-charge of the day-to-day operations of the oppressive security and intelligence service (SIS).

The government’s newspapers stated on 23 March that the “Amir, who together with Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, was visiting the Special Security Unit at Safra, praised Public Security efforts to safeguard the lives and property of citizens and residents in Bahrain.” The Amir said “Bahrain is a country where the rule of law is paramount and national security is a top priority,” The Amir also praised the role of the Premier and Interior Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa in directing security efforts.” Papers went on to say: “On arrival at the ceremony, the Amir and Premier were received by the Interior Minister, Ministry Under-Secretary Major General Shaikh Ibrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Under-Secretary for Immigration and Passports Shaikh Rashid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Under-Secretary for Security Shaikh Khalid bin Mohammed bin Salman Al Khalifa and other top officials. Also present were senior Ruling Family members, the Shura Council chairman and members, civil and military officials and guests. “

Bahrain in the 3rd Millinieum has therefore been turned back to feudalism with total disregard to aspirations of Bahrainis and in a way that contradicts all notions of human development and modernity.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

23 March 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089


OMCT on Bahrain

Date: 22/03/2000

RE: Case BHR 060300.1 – Release and re-arrest

Case BHR 060300.1

Follow-up to Case BHR 060300

Geneva, 22nd March 2000

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has received new information from BHRO stating that Abdul-Wahab Hussain was arrested on 17th March 2000 after spending an hour at home after his release earlier that evening at 9:30pm, following an order from the High Court of Appeal to release him on 14th March 2000. According to his brother, Ibrahim Hussain, “He spent around one hour at home before police took him back. They said they wanted to complete arrangements for his release.” He further added that the police promised to release Abdul-Wahab after the Moslem Eid al-Adha feast, which officially ends on Sunday.

According to the information received, Abdul Wahab Hussain remains in detention and the SIS is threatening his family with the detention of Abdul Wahab for another three years in accordance with the 1974 State Security Law, which allows for a maximum administrative detention of three years, a law which in itself falls short of International standards for a fair trial.

Previously, on 29th February 2000, Abdul Wahab Hussain had appeared before the State Security Court in a hearing to consider a complaint filed by his defence lawyer. The complaint was based on the fact that Mr. Hussain has been in detention for more than three years (since 22nd January 1996) which is the maximum period of administrative detention affirmed in the 1974 State Security Act.

The hearing was postponed until 14th March 2000. Furthermore, according to the information received, earlier, Mr. Hussain was put under pressure by three SIS officers, Adel Flaifel and two British officers, to sign a statement apologizing for his actions and undertaking not to carry out acts calling for political reform, or incite others to do so, and not to partake in any public speaking, including religious sermons. If this was signed he would be pardoned by the Amir. However, Mr. Abdul-Wahab Hussain refused to sign the pre-prepared statement.

The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned by the prolonged detention of Abdul-Wahab Hussain. OMCT is preoccupied by the fact that there is no guarantee to a fair and impartial trial from the State Security Court. Also, that his detention is in direct contradiction with Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.”

Requested Action

Please write to the Bahrain authorities urging that they :

i. order the immediate release of Abdul-Wahab Hussain;

ii. carry out a full and impartial investigation into this alleged arbitrary detentions, ill-treatment and alleged threats to Abdul-Wahab Hussain and his family, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions provided by law;iii.put an immediate end to the use of arbitrary detention of people by the police and abrogate 1974 State Security Law and all national laws which are not in compliance with international human rights standards.

iv. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.

Addresses:His Highness Hamad Bin Issa Al Khalifa, Office of His Highness the Amir, P.O. Box 555, The Amiri Court, Rifa’a Palace, Bahrain. Fax : + 973 668884. Telex : 8666 Qasar BN; 8500 Qasar BN

His Excellency Al-Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister,

P.O. Box 1000, al-Manama, Bahrain. Telex : 9336 PROM BN or 7889 PMPO BN. FAX: + 973 533033.

His Excellency Al-Shaikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa,

Minister of Interior, P.O. Box 13, al-Manama, Bahrain.

Fax : + 973 276765 or 290526 or 754303. Telex : 9572 PSMKT BN OR 8333 ALAMAN BN

Geneva,22nd March 2000

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture (OMCT)

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

Organizaci?n Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT)

8 rue du Vieux-Billard

Case postale 21CH-1211 Geneve


Tel. : 0041 22 809 49 39

Fax : 0041 22 809 43 29

E-mail : omct@omct.org


Bahrain: Abdul Wahab Hussain back in detention

The re-detention of the pro-democracy figure Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain one hour after his release (on 17 March) from more than four years in detention stunned political observers who thought that the Al-Khalifa regime was reforming itself. The interior ministry claimed at first that they had not “completed the arrangements for his release”. Such a statement was aimed at deflecting attention and confusing the situation. Indeed, the deputy of the information ministry (a member of the ruling family) was quoted by a foreign journalist (who had enquired about Mr. Hussain) saying “we do not and do not care who Mr. Hussain is”.

This inhuman attitude towards the people of Bahrain is nothing but a manifestation of a backward mentality that has failed to understand the political world of today. Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain was detained in January 1996 under the provisions of the unconstitutional State Security Court. This law allows the Al-Khalifa family to detain Bahrainis for three years without charges or trial. Mr. Hussain and his colleagues have been in detention for more than four years. A source in the interior ministry stated to the relatives of Mr. Hussein on 20 March that the “highest State authorities decided that Abdul Wahab will be re-detained under a renewed order as per the state Security Court.” Such a statement contradicts what the ministry had informed the family of Mr. Hussain last Friday upon his re-detention.

The Al-Khalifa family is busy these days inviting some individuals who might be used as part the PR campaign for glorifying their dictatorship. One of the experts of the UN Human Rights Sub-Commission, Ms. Halima Embarak Warzazi (a Moroccan) was invited to visit Bahrain for this purpose. Ms. Warzazi was accused in August 1997 of colliding with the regime for lobbying against the passing of the historic resolution condemning the atrocities and human rights abuses committed in Bahrain.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

21 March 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089


News update:

DUBAI, March 18 (Reuters) – Bahrain freed and later re-arrested a prominent Shi’ite Moslem opposition leader who had been held without trial for more than four years, his brother said on Saturday.

Ibrahim Hussain said his brother, Abdul-Wahab Hussain, was freed late on Friday on an order from the High Court of Appeal, but police detained him again after he arrived home.

“He spent around one hour at home before police took him back. They said they wanted to complete arrangements for his release,” Ibrahim said.

He said police promised to release Abdul-Wahab after the Moslem Eid al-Adha feast, which officially ends on Sunday.

A legal source in Bahrain confirmed that Abdul-Wahab had been freed and re-detained.

Abdul-Wahab, who was detained in 1996, last month filed a complaint with the court against his detention without trial. Ibrahim said the court ordered Abdul-Wahab released on March 14.

Abdul-Wahab was detained with seven other Shi’ite Moslem opposition leaders during anti-government violence by members of the majority Shi’ite community which erupted in December 1994. The violence abated in 1998.

One of the detained leaders, Sheikh Abdul-Amir al-Jamri, was pardoned last July by Bahrain’s new Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, who came to power after the death of his father in March 1999. REUTERS


DUBAI, March 18 (Reuters) – Bahrain freed a prominent Shi’ite Moslem opposition leader who had been in detention for more than four years, the London-based Bahrain Freedom Movement said on Saturday.

It said in a statement sent to Reuters that Abdul-Wahab Hussain was freed late on Friday, but gave no details.

A legal source in Bahrain confirmed the report.

Hussain was detained together with seven other Shi’ite Moslem opposition leaders amid a surge of anti-government protests and violence by members of the majority Shi’ite community which erupted in December 1994 and abated in 1998.

One of them, Sheikh Abdul-Amir al-Jamri, was pardoned last July by Bahrain’s Emir Sheikh Hamad, who came to power after the death of his father last March.

Hussain, who was detained in 1996, had filed a complaint last month at Bahrain’s High Court of Appeal against his detention without trial. REUTERS


Bahrain: Abdul Wahab Hussain released

The pro-democracy figure, Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain was released by the Bahraini authorities on 17 March at 9.30 pm (local time). Prior to his release, the security forces encircled Nuweidrat and prevented the citizens from approaching the area. The house of Mr. Hussain was also besieged and even the residents of Nuweidrat were not able to meet with him.

Mr. Hussain was detained on 14 January 1996 following a period of five months during which he and his colleagues have calmed down the situation. Sheikh Al-Jamri, Mr. Hussain and several leading activists were detained by the security forces ahead of major crackdowns against the peaceful population.

Mr. Hussain was detained under the provisions of the unconstitutional State Security Law. This law states that persons may be detained for a maximum of three years. On 29 February, the lawyers of Mr. Hussain presented the State Security Court with a petition for his release on the basis that more than three years had been completed. The court adjourned its session until 14 March and during this session Mr. Hussain was told that he would be released.

The opposition believes that the government of Bahrain has adopted a wrong approach by detaining the pro-democracy figures in the first place and by plunging the country into a political crisis with far reaching implications.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

17 March ?2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089


Bahrain: The Case of Abdul Wahab Hussain

The State Security Court convened today on 14 March. Mr. Hussain’s lawyers had submitted a petition calling for the release of the pro-democracy figure who had been in detention since January 1996. He was detained according to the unconstitutional State Security Law which presribes a maximum of three years. Mr. Hussain and many of his colleagues have been languishing in detention without any acceptable excuse for more than four years.

The court’s judges failed to fix Mr. Hussain with any charges and accepted the submission of the lawyers, which means Mr. Hussain must be released. Mr. Hussain was taken back to Al-Qala’a prison, awaiting implementation of today’s sentence.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

14 March 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089

Bahrain: Citizens suffer detention and intimidation

As the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) convenes it annual meeting to discuss human rights violations worldwide, arrests continue to be the norm of everyday life in Bahrain. Children remain to be subjected to arbitrary arrest and unlawful interference and attacks on there basic human rights. Nine children were arrested over the past two weeks from different areas in the country. The children include: Hassan Salman Al Laith, 16, Ali Ahmed Jaffar Al Laith, 16, Mohammed Hassan Maki, 16, Jaffar Mohammed Abdul Rasul, 17 ( all were arrested on 10 March from Dar Kulaib area), Hussain Ali Hussain, 16 (arrested on 10 March from Shahrakkan area), Khadem Abdula Ali, 14, Hussain Ahmed Abas, 14 and Hussain Ali, 14 (the latter three were arrested on 7 March from Dair Area. They were threatened and intimidated then released on the same day. They had been arrested twice before and were accused of writing pro-democracy slogans).

On 10 March, the security forces besieged Dar Kulaib area and arrested six persons. They are Fadil Abas Yahya Thamir, 18, Baqir Hussain Rashid, 18, Fadel Habib Al Jabouri, 19 and three other children (mentioned above). The intelligence forces then filmed all slogans that express people’s views on the current situation as an evidence against the youths of the area. One of the slogans read ” while the citizens expect the government to resolve the crisis instead Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain appears in security court “. Moreover, on the same day in early morning at around 2.30pm the security forces arrested Badir Ahmed Al Jaziri, 32. He is believed to be held at Buday’a Police Centre.

On 8 March the following persons were arrested from Abu Saib’a area: Abdulla Habib Ahmed Habib, 23, Ebrahim Abdulla Zuhair, 23, Mohammed Hussain Jaffar, 19 ( they were all arrested at midnight from their houses). Moreover, on the first week of March, Mohammed Jaber Sha’lan, 19, from Hamad Town, was arrested along with three other person ( their names not available yet). Also, two persons were arrested by the notorious Adel Flaifel. They are Taqi Jaffar Al Halwachi, 40 and Naer Burdistani, 36.

On 29 February, Fadel Abbas from Dair area was re-arrested for the second time since his release a few months ago. On 28 February, two persons from Dair area were arrested and released the following day. They are Mohammed Muhsin, 22 (was arrested from his work place) and Ali Al Me’abad, 22.

It was reported that Haidar Salamn Haidar, 20, who was arrested on 27 February, from Diah area, is being placed in a solitary cell and subjected to brutal torture on the hands of the notorious Khalid Al Wazan in Al Khamis Police Centre. It is worth mentioning that Haidar had earlier spent three years in jail without charge or trial. Haidar’s brother Mohammed is also detained at the Dry-Dock Prison.

The London-based ” Al Quds Al Arabi” newspaper published an article for Dr. Saeed Shehabi in which the writer said ” the unfolding of Pinochet file in the British Courts is not the end of the path, but is the beginning of a new era for the issue of torture”. He said that ” the British Police continues to investigate the file of the British Officer Ian Henderson who is accused of torturing Bahrainis”. He went on to say that the decision to put Henderson on trial for torture will probably be politically decided and that the British government will take into consideration its private interests in the Gulf when deciding on this case. The writer commented by saying that he British Government has almost totally scrapped the principle of “ethical policy” from its foreign policy and started talking about “constructive dialogue” with the governments that violate human rights.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

13 March 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089


Bahrain: The Al-Khalifa repeat their stereotype excuses for lack of reforms

Stagnation in Bahrain’s life is far reaching. Political and economically, Bahrain is smothered by a mentality that does not identify with today’s world. The Crown Prince who visited London earlier this month was quoted by a personality who met with him that there are Bahrainis who want to establish “an Islamic republic” and this is why his family is slow on reforms.

The Al-Khalifa family has used this pretext to win support from Western powers, especially the UK and US. The people of Bahrain demand their human rights and call for the restoration of their constitution. The Committee for Popular Petition (CPP) is made up of representatives of all sections and trends in Bahrain society and has been denied any opportunity to present the case of Bahrain to the Amir. Instead, the Al-Khalifa family plundered the nation’s wealth on importing thousands of mercenaries; constructing extra jails (more than hospitals in Bahrain); conducting a racist campaign against a section of Bahrain society in a bid to satisfy its hate-based policies; and by all this hoping to kill the aspirations of Bahrainis for a better future. No sound politician with a grasp of the basics of Bahrain society could buy the story of the Al-Khalifa anymore.

Attempting to inject some optimism in the economy, the Amir sent invitations to leading business people to attend a meeting with him on 13 March. The agenda of the meeting includes presentations by ministries responsible for major projects. The Housing and Municipalities Ministry will present its plan for developing “Hawar islands” and will invite the businessmen to inject their money into the project. However this is a political project rather than an economic one. The ruling family continues to import mercenaries from the deserts of Syria, Jordan and Arabia. These mercenaries are granted Bahraini citizenship and the falsified passports state that these were born in “Hawar islands”.

Few years ago, the late Amir, Sheikh Isa Al-Khalifa met with the business community to ask them why had they withheld their money. The businessmen responded that many Al-Khalifa individuals owe them money and these are immune from the legal system; that these Al-Khalifas control the fate of business people, such as issuing visas and commercial licences; and that they are asked to venture their money in a hopeless game. The then Amir returned some of the money owed to some of the businessmen and said to them he could not help them any more.

The new Amir has had one year in power and for the last year the powers of Al-Khalifas have been extended and all major State appointments are now going to them only. Business is more controlled by those enterprises that have Al Khalifa “sleeping & earning” partners. May be in his next visit the Amir or the Crown Prince will say to British officials that the Bahraini businessmen wanted to “establish an Islamic republic” and that is why the Al-Khalifa were slow to respond to their demands.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

12 March 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089


MUSCAT, Oman, Mar 09, 2000 (AsiaPulse via COMTEX) — An agreement for diplomatic and consular cooperation has been signed at the Foreign Ministry here between the Sultanate and Bahrain, under which the diplomatic and consular missions of either country look after the interests of the citizens of each other country, in case there is no diplomatic or consular representation for either of them in any country in the world.

The agreement was signed Wednesday from the Omani side by Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, while Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak al Khalifa, Foreign Minister of Bahrain signed for his side.

On the occasion, the Bahraini Foreign Minister toured the Foreign Ministry which included Telecommunications, computer departments, in addition to the Omani diplomatic institute. The Foreign Minister of Bahrain expressed his admiration, for the progress he witnessed, in offering training and in the telecommunications field, in practice at the Ministry, saying that political cooperation between the two countries was ideal between brothers.

Bahrain: Al-Khalifa fail to understand basics of modernity

The Crown Prince ended his trip to the UK this week and returned to Bahrain. Before his return to Bahrain he met with officials and some journalists. He failed to answer why had the Amir refused to meet with the delegation from the Committee for Popular Petition. It was also puzzling that the Al-Khalifa family can not yet understand that the people of Bahrain demand their constitutional rights, no less and no more.

While Bahraini citizens are denied their basic rights, the Al-Khalifa continue their process for further domination of all aspects of public life. As stated by the BFM, the Al-Khalifa appointed one of their number to be the ambassador in the UAE. Further appointments of Al-Khalifa persons are expected to be announced in the near future. This is part of the new policy for Khalifanising the State administration.

Opposition figure, Mr. Ahmed Al-Thawadi, wrote an article in the London-based Al-Quds of 9 March. He analysed the background behind the continued detention without trial of Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain and his colleagues. Mr. Al-Thawadi emphasised that the rule of law and a just judicial system are the guarantors for the respect of human rights for all.

Mr. Hussain appeared before the unconstitutional State Security Court on 29 February is due to appear again on 14 March. He had lodged an appeal demanding his release from detention. He had been arrested under the provisions of the unconstitutional State Security Court in January 1996. This law puts a maximum of three year for detention without trial. However, the Al-Khalifa disregard all laws, even their draconian ones.

The Geneva-based International Organisation Against Torture OMCT issued an urgent action regarding the arbitrary detention and complaint to the State Security Court of Abdul-Wahab Hussain who has been held since January 1996 without charges. OMCT said “According to the information received, on 29th February 2000, he appeared before the State Security Court in a hearing to consider a complaint filed by his defence lawyer. The complaint was based on the fact that Mr. Hussain has been in detention for more than three years which is the maximum period of administrative detention affirmed in the 1974 State Security Act. The hearing was postponed until 14th March 2000”.

It went on to say “according to the information received, earlier, Mr. Hussain was put under pressure by three SIS officers, Adel Flaifel and two British officers, to sign a statement apologizing for his actions and undertaking not to carry out acts calling for political reform, or incite others to do so, and not to partake in any public speaking, including religious sermons. If this was signed he would be pardoned by the Amir. However, Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain refused to sign the pre-prepared statement. He is currently in detention in AlQla’a prison.

OMCT called on the Bahraini authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Abdul Wahab and to order his immediate release. It also called for an impartial investigation into the alleged arbitrary detentions and to guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with the national and international standards.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

9 March 2000

Tel/Fax: (44) 207 278 9089

Bahrain: No change of policy after one-year in power

The 6th of March marks the first anniversary for the new Amir, Sheikh Hamad Al-Khalifa. When he assumed power last year he declared that his era would be an “era of change.” On 1 March, the crown prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa was quoted by Al-Hayat newspaper on 1 March saying: “if they (leaders of the opposition abroad) return to Bahrain, they will be tried like their previous colleagues”. In a meeting he held with a few people he also repeated similar statements and said that democracy is not on the agenda. These statements confirmed how difficult it is for a backward-tribal mentality to modernise itself. While the world moves on, our people are subjected to an ancient type of governance that existed in Arabia before the era of Islam and modernity.

Wall-writing, the last resort for an oppressed nation, intensified in the past week with condemnation of continued detention of citizens and continued atrocities by the mercenaries who are continually being imported from outside Bahrain for the sole purpose of repressing the nation. Several areas switched-off lighting and closed the shops on 29 February, on the day when Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussein appeared before an unconstitutional court presided by a member of the Al-Khalifa family. The intelligence department summoned several owners of shops in Daih area and interrogated them about the closure of their shops on that day.

The General Committee of Bahraini Workers stated that it is not prepared to participate in the High Council for Vocational Training. The move came as a protest against the intervention of the Labour Ministry in the affairs of the Committee. The Committee is denied any proper capability because the government bans labour unions. The aim of the government has always been to use the Committee as a rubber stamp and as a fictitious showcase outside Bahrain. Members of the Committee are refusing the degrading treatment they are receiving from the tribal dictatorship.

During the month of February, the torturer Abdul Aziz Atteyat-Allah Al-Khalifa organised meetings in Karbabad and Manama clubs to advertise for his role as a governor of the Capital. Since 1996 two members of the ruling family were appointed by their family as governors of Manama and Muharraq. The torturer was questioned by some of those who attended the meeting in Karbabad Club “why are the security forces intimidating the citizens and arresting some of those who attend mosques?” The torturer claimed that this was the first time he heard about such things. In another Manama meeting he stated that his role is primarily concerned with “security”. This man has personally tortured citizens when he played his role as head of the Investigation Committee that was formed in 1995 to torture those arrested during the years of the uprising.

In the past two weeks, the security forces mounted several raids against the population. On 18 February, these mercenary forces attacked a mosque in Kawarah and ransacked its content without any respect to religious places. On 18 and 19 February, the citizens burnt tyres and blocked the main highways in Bori and Arad to protest against the atrocities of the security forces.

On 20 February, one citizen, Ali Mansoor, 17, (from Abo-Saiba) was snatched from his house. The house of Mr. Abbas Meftah was also attacked and the mercenaries asked for one of the citizen’s sons for arrest. Since the required son was not around, they took the eldest son of Mr, Meftah as a hostage.

The secerity forces arrested Seyyed Nader Adnan Al-Fallah, 19, and Maher Abbas, 19, (both from Snobs) for several days. On 14 February, Haider Salman Haider, 20, from Daih, was detained by the security forces. He had already spent three years in detention and suffered extensive amounts of torture in Khamis police station.

In mid-February, several prisoners in Jaw were transferred to solitary cells in Qala’a prison, where the headquarters of the intelligence department and interior ministry are located. Amongst these prisoners are: Ali Al-Mutghawwi, Mohammed Sahwan, and Ali Darwish. Abdul Zahra Ahmad Khalifa, from Karbabad, was transferred to a solitary cell in Jaw prison.

Fatima Salman Makki Salman, 24, was summoned for interrogation last month. She had been interrogated several times in the past months. Haji Abdul Rasool Al-Ashori, from Jedhafs, is being summoned every few days and intimidated by the interior ministry. The latter wants him to remove some palm trees that are planted in a plot he owns. The torturers claim that the palm trees are obstructing their surveillance operations in the area.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

6 March 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089


Bahrain: Political reform is not on yet on the Amir’s agenda

As the crown prince arrived in the UK for talks with British officials on more arms for the tribal dictatorship, Bahrainis continue to suffer intimidation and persecution.

On February the unconstitutional State Security Court postponed a hearing for a leading pro-democracy advocate and member of the Committee for Popular Petition Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain. The hearing was re-scheduled to 14th March. It came after more than four years of detention without trial or charge. During his detention he and seven other pro-democracy persons including Sheikh Al Jamri (who was released last July but continues to be under restriction of movement and his house is continuously encircled by security forces which prevent any person other than the sons and daughters of Sheikh Al-Jamri) were threatened, tortured and placed in solitary cells for prolonged periods of time.

On the eve of Mr. Hussain’s hearing, people in Neweidrat area assembled in one of the mosques and prayed for Mr. Hussain. Also, flashes of flames were seen on the entrance of Sitra area along with anti-State Security court slogans. Also, the lights in Daih area were totally turned off in solidarity with Mr. Hussain. On the other hand, helicopters were seen flying-low around many areas as well heavy presence of security forces.

Meanwhile, the 1999 Country Report on Human Rights Practices released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the U.S. Department of State on February 25, dismissed any doubts regarding the atrocious human rights situation in Bahrain. In regard to the State Security Law the Report states that “in practice, in matters regarding arrest, detention, or exile, the 1974 State Security Act takes precedence”. It goes on to explain “Government security forces used the State Security Act during the year to detain persons deemed to be engaging in antigovernment activities, including persons who attempted to exercise their rights of free speech, assembly, and association, or other rights”.

A number of arrests took place lately in various areas around the country. On 27 February, The security forces ransacked the house of Haj Abdula Al Qamish in Sitra area and arrested his four sons. They are Ali, 30, Murtada, 25, Rida, 19 and Sadiq, 18. From Tubli area: Mirza Ahmed Hassan Saleh, 20 (arrested on 21 February), Ali Ahmed Abdula, 18, Hussain Abdul Nabi Khadim, 18 (both were arrested on 2 February) and Hussain Mirza Radi, 19 (arrested on 23 February. He had spent three years in detention without trial and now re-arrested again after short release. From Dair area, on 20 February, Ali Ahmed Al Aud, 30 (he was in his honeymoon) and Mohammed Jaffar Jasim, 22 ( got married two weeks before his arrest). From Sanabis area: Seyed Adnan Al Falah, 19 and Mahir Abbas, 19 ( they were first arrested for two days then re-arrested for five days without charge).

The London Based “Al Quds” newspaper published an article for Dr. Saeed Shehabi of the BFM titled “after one year since the accession of Sheikh Hamad: Bahrain awaits a brave reforms decision”. The writer said, “the opposition’s calls for dialogue were not heeded by the authorities”. He went on to say “the government failed to take a step to initiate dialogue….. and that the Amir has two option: either dialogue and openness with representatives of people inside and outside the country for seeking a peaceful political solution to the crisis or to continue to rule with emergency laws and to ignore the constitution”. The writer commented by saying that a peaceful solution would lead to stability, development, and reconciliation between the people and the government while the second option would lead to instability in all fields.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

2 March 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089


MANAMA, Bahrain (Reuters)-29 Feb – Bahrain’s High Court of Appeal Tuesday postponed a hearing to consider a complaint filed by a Shiite Muslim opposition leader who has been detained for more than four years without trial, his defense lawyer said.

“The court met Tuesday but postponed the case until March 14,” the lawyer, who wished not to be named, told Reuters. He declined to give further details.

The London-based opposition group, Bahrain Freedom Movement, said Monday Bahrain would start the trial of Abdul-Wahab Hussain, who was a member of a committee that signed a petition calling for the restoration of the first elected parliament, which was dissolved in 1975.

Hussain, together with seven other Shiite Muslim opposition leaders, were detained amid a surge of anti-government protests and violence by members of the majority Shiite community that erupted in December 1994 and abated in 1998.

One of them, Sheikh Abdul-Amir al-Jamri, was pardoned last July by Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, who came to power on the death of his father last March.


Bahrain: Detained pro-democracy leader to go on trial on 29 February

The government of Bahrain decided to bring the detained pro-democracy leader, Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain to trial on Tuesday 29 February. Mr. Hussain was detained (for the second time) in mid-January 1996 and has since then been subjected to various forms of ill-treatment. Mr. Hussain is a member of the Committee for Popular Petition and had been instrumental in the campaign for restoring constitutional rights to Bahrainis. He was targeted by the security forces and was interned in 1995 and then in 1996.

In 1995, he and several other detained figures, who included Sheikh Al-Jamri, entered into discussions with the Bahraini authorities for resolving the political crisis through political and peaceful means. The interior ministry re-initiated a campaign of terror and atrocities. Mr. Hussain together with his colleagues were re-arrested and the security forces were given the green light to mount repressive operations against the citizens.

Mr. Hussein has been held without charges or trial for more than four years. Political trials are speedily concluded by the unconstitutional State Security Courts which is presided by a member of the ruling Al-Khalifa family with two Egyptian judges imported on a 2-year contract. Such a contract is only renewed if the these judges pass the pre-determined political sentences.

The Bahraini crown prince arrived in the UK on 26 February for talks with British officials. The scheduled visit will include meetings with both the defence and interior secretaries in the UK. The opposition calls on the UK Foreign Office to use its excellent relations with the Al-Khalifa ruling family to urge them to respect human rights and international conventions.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

27 February 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089


Bahrain: Crown prince visits the UK ; Opposition calls for activation of UK “ethical policy”

The Bahraini crown prince Shaikh Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa arrived Saturday, 26 February, on an official visit of several days to the UK. It was announced that the crown prince was accompanied by a senior delegation from the ruling Al-Khalifa family. The delegation will hold talks with senior British government officials and will attend the 10th meeting of the Bahrain-British joint military committee. On the other hand, the Amir Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa met in Bahrain on Saturday, 26 February, the Chief of the United Kingdom Defence Staff General Charles Guthrie. The Bahraini opposition calls upon HM Government to include human rights on the agenda during the meetings with Bahrain ruling family officials.

The UK’s ethical policy has been criticised because regimes like the one in Bahrain continues to receive all kinds of assistance without real improvement in issues relating to human rights and democracy. Military sales to Bahrain ought to be linked to respect of basic rights, as recommended by the European Parliament in its resolution of 1997 article (2) on Bahrain. The latter called on EU Member States to refrain from supplying arms or security support to the government of Bahrain and requested the Council to take initiatives in order to obtain similar restraint at international level.

On 23 February, the International Secretariat of OMCT issued an urgent action regarding the arbitrary arrest of a student and arrest and fear of torture of seven others in Bahrain. OMCT called on the Bahraini authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of these persons and to order their immediate release. It also called for an impartial investigation into the alleged arbitrary detentions and to guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with the national and international standards.

Bahrain Freedom Movement (2nd Press Release)

27 February 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089


March 2000

One year of the “new era”‘ ends in stagnation

Hollow promises undermine stability

Now that the “reform” programme of Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa the Amir of Bahrain has fizzled out, questions are being asked about the long-term prospects of ruling Al-Khalifa family. However, a fundamental change in the status quo is not anticipated in the near future. But the balance of power in the Gulf region is being altered with new developments heralding a possibly different future. The recent parliamentary elections in Iran are seen as a positive progress towards democratisation in the Middle East, where despotism and dictatorship are rampant. The world community has welcomed the openness of the Iranian elections, the participation of women in the political process and the landslide victory of the reformists. Although that country has long been accused of “exporting” its revolution, little hard evidence was ever presented to support this claim. Now the problem will be greater. The people of the region have followed the democratic process in Iran with a degree of envy and anticipation. It is inconceivable that these people can be denied their democratic rights forever. Dictatorships in the region are alarmed that their system of rule is not well received by democratic governments. They have to adapt to the new realities of the world in order to survive in the new millennium.

Another factor that may lead to the abolition of the status quo is the anticipated change of the world’s attitude towards Iraq. The sanctions have done little to help the cause of democracy and human rights in that embattled country, and it will not be long before they crumble altogether. Saddam Hussain is a hated dictator, but the other rulers are not angels. Human rights in Iraq are of colossal proportions, but a small country like Bahrain is not a haven for respect of these rights or practice of democracy. Any change in Iraq will inadvertently affect the situation in the Gulf. It is clear that the Gulf monarchies are eager to keep Saddam in power on the basis that a devil you know is better than the angel you do not know. They have resisted any call for reform and they are becoming more outdated with the passage of time. On the other hand, the case of Iraq has divided the policy-makers of the GCC countries. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have so far resisted any serious rapprochement with Iraq while Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman have come closer to Iraq. At the same time relations among the GCC countries themselves have not been so fraternal. The relations between Saudi Arabia and the UAE have soured in recent times and a war of words erupted between them. The relations between Bahrain and Qatar remain sour despite recent high-level contacts between them. The Al-Khalifa do not recognise the rule of the Al-Thani of Qatar, and believe that they are the “righteous owners” of the Qatar peninsula. They base their claim on their conviction that their ancestors had settled in Zebara, a shantytown in North Western Qatar more for three decades more than two centuries ago. They still lay claim on Zebara, which is now a ruined old town.

Over the past few years there have been calls to modernise the ruling regimes of the Gulf. Even their closest friends in the West feel embarrassed by the lack of any form of public participation in these countries. However, these friends have adopted a policy of closing the eyes towards the political situation. Over the past five years the situation in Bahrain has flared up and caused immense embarrassment to the western allies of the Al-Khalifa ruling tribe. So far the West has not lived up to its declared objectives of encouraging democracy and respect of human rights in the world. They have adopted different standards in dealing with other countries. For example they would take seriously cases of human rights violations in countries like China but they would be reluctant to adopt a similar stand when the case is related to Bahrain.

Moreover, the ideals of democracy are applied in most areas of the world but no serious concerns are expressed towards the lack of democratic practices in the GCC countries. It is clear that these countries have peculiar regimes based on hereditary dictatorship and adoption of outdated values in social and political life. The main argument is that the Gulf region is strategically important to the West because it supplies more than one third of its oil requirement and the GCC countries offer military facilities to US forces. Both Iraq and Iran are seen by the West as the main threat to the oil supplies and have to be deterred by massive military presence in the Gulf. Furthermore, the American-brokered peace initiative between certain Arab governments and Israel has introduced another complicated factor in the political equation. The Americans will not encourage political participation in the Middle East for fear that it might result in more patriotic elements taking control of the political affairs and decision-making. No wonder then that the crown prince of Bahrain goes out of his way declaring his readiness to go steps towards Israel for each step it takes towards him. At the same time his father has refused to receive a letter from the Committee for Popular Petition (CPP) requesting him to agree to receive them.

The political situation may seem at times less volatile but it is widely believed, even by local politicians, that it is the calm before the storm. It is unnatural for a system to continue denying the citizens their basic rights of participation in the political process in their countries. It is also inconceivable that as the world begins a new millennium there are still regimes that rule their citizens in accordance with outdated values and traditions. It is therefore not too wild to suggest that the long-awaited political change will soon befall the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. After all, the Kuwaiti and Qatari experiences where controlled change was gradually introduced have made it possible for the people of Bahrain to demand a return to constitutional rule and respect of human rights. They will continue with their demands relentlessly until the Amir undertakes serious reforms. Failing to do so will only lead to a less pleasant, and perhaps more dangerous environment for him to rule. The movement that started in Bahrain more than five years ago is unlikely to disappear in the shadows of hollow promises. As long as the security forces are needed to roam the streets to pursue pro-democracy activists and violate their rights in the most shameful way, there will remain a need for a serious overhaul of the system. Change is inevitable. The people want it to happen peacefully. It is up to the Al-Khalifa to decide how violent they want to remain.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

1 March 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089

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