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January 1996: Security forces attack mosques, arrest opposition leaders and commit arson

1 January: Following last Friday (29 December) siege on Sheikh Al-Jamri’s house and closure of two mosques demonstrations and street clashes broke out at mid-day in Bani Jamra and Duraz. Later in the evening a demonstration marched through the streets of Daih and Jedhafs. The demonstrators clashed with security forces on the main highway near Al-Razi Pharmacy. The siege on Al-Jamri ended after few hour of clashes. Then, Sheikh Al-Jamri led prayers in the grand mosque of Al-Qafool (a district of Manama, the capital) where he said that “the government wants me to give-up calling for political reforms. But this is not a personal issue and I have no right of doing so. The demands for political reforms concern the nation and it is them who decide whether or not these demands should be stopped”. At noon, on the same day, Mr. Hassan Mushaimaa addressed a gathering in Momin mosque in Manama where he stressed that “the struggle for restoring the rule of constitutional law will continue regardless of all obstacles”. Members of the intelligence department encircled the mosque and started intimidating attendants. This led to skirmishes between members of the intelligence department (who were Pakistanis) and a group of youth.

2 January: Sheikh Ali Al-Nachas, a 48-year old blind person was released on bail after his family paid 200 dinars. He spent few days in detention and has been known for his outspoken criticism of the government.

3 January: The chief Manama Police Headquarters summoned Mr. Abdulla Al-Ebrik, the person in-charge of Al-Qafool grand mosque, and warned him that if Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri continues to lead prayers in the mosque every Friday night the mosque will be closed down. Mr. Al-Ebrik then went to the religious affairs (Awqaf) department and informed its head, Mr. Sadek Al-Baharnah about the matter. Al-Baharnah stated to Al-Ebrik that “you are an employee responsible for opening and closing the gates at certain times but not responsible for who leads prayers in the mosque”. The latter statement was then conveyed to Al-Khamis Police Headquarters by Mr. Al-Ebrik. However, the chief of Al-Khamis HQ, Mr. Abdulla Al-Mussallam insisted that Al-Jamri must be prevented from praying in the mosque. On 3 January, the chief of Manama Police HQ contacted the house of Sheikh Al-Jamri to convey the message and threatened Al-Jamri.

4 January: Security forces deployed twenty lorries packed with riot police and many civilian cars packed with members of the intelligence department around the house of Sheikh Al-Jamri. They tear-gassed people who were praying in Zain al-Abedin mosque in front of Sheikh Al-Jamri house in Bani Jamra. People started gathering from every where responding to the provocation. After few hours, the security forces pulled-out. Sheikh Al-Jamri addressed the gathering crowd and said “this childish and immature move was unnecessary. They (security forces) have been shocked by the strength of unity amongst the people and are waging these provocative actions to intimidate the opposition”. A mass demonstration followed this event in Dair area (Muharraq island) and several clashes and skirmishes were reported.

5 January: Sheikh Al-Jamri addressed a gathering in Al-Sadek mosque in Duraz. Last week, the siege prevented the prayer. The number of gathering people surged and the speech was delivered while riot police were visibly encircling the area at a distance. Later at Al-Qafool (a district of Manama, the capital) security forces besieged the grand mosque there to prevent Sheikh Al-Jamri from leading the prayers later in the evening at the mosque. People started going to the Al-Qafool mosque after 5.00 pm and clashes broke out when security forces attacked with tear gas, and rubber bullets. The youth responded with stone-throwing and clashes affected the window-glasses of the prestigious nearby Dairy-Queen restaurant. At night In Nuaim, another district of Manama, riot police attacked a mass gathering at around 9.20 pm , without prior warning. Mr. Hassan Mushaima’a was delivering his speech when the attacking forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Clashes erupted and about a hundred people, including Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri, took refuge in a nearby small house. Ninety minutes later, security forces stormed the small house and clashed with people inside. Sheikh Al-Jamri was heart when police started beating people in random and began hand-cuffing them. Seyed Ibrahim Al-Alawi (a prominent clergy) was beaten to exhaustion. Al-Jamri attempted to discuss matters with the riot police but these could not speak Arabic. Their chief (A Bahraini by the name Isa Al-Qattan) later appeared on the scene and Sheikh Al-Jamri warned him of the grave consequences and asked for the release of the hundred people who were hand-cuffed. After a heated discussion, this group was released while many others were taken prisoners. Sheikh Al-Jamri then saw a person outside the house lying face-down in a critical condition. The person was given water and recovered slightly. Asked what happened, the young man (in his night wear) explained that he had nothing to do with the gathering when his house was stormed and he had been pulled out from his bed. He suffers from heart conditions and requested to be taken back to his wife who was worried about what happened.

5 Jan: US State Dept Human Rights Report stated: On January 5, during a peaceful demonstration in the Al-Qafool area of downtown Manama, security forces shot an unidentified 16-year-old male in the leg who was then fatally struck by a vehicle when he attempted to flee the scene.

9 January: Three boys aged 7 and 8 were arrested in Barbar. The three children are Yasir Ammar (7 years old), Ali Mahdi Hammood (8 years) and Seyed Majid Hasan (8 years old). After receiving torturing treatment they were released on bail to appear before a political court on 13 January. On the same day (9 January), riot police stopped a bus in Duraz taking pupils (all are children and teenagers) to school. Then, police entered the bus and randomly started beating the children with batons. They claimed that one pupil whistled at them. When the bus arrived at Duraz schools, teachers declared their solidarity and implemented a one day strike.

10 January: AP reported from Manama that “security forces fired tear gas at participants in an anti-government protest near the capital, the fourth to be broken up in the last two weeks, opposition groups said today. A government source confirmed that a “gathering of a few hundred” people was dispersed Tuesday night (9 January) in al-Daih, five miles west of the capital Manama”. Demonstrators from three Manama suburbs converged on a main road just outside the capital for the protest march. There were many injuries in the clashes. The demonstrators were angered by the recent arrest of a leading clergyman, Sheikh Mohammed al-Rayyash. Residents told AP that some 700 protesters took part in a march.

12 January: Al-Qafool grand mosque was again turned into a battle ground. At around 3.00 pm about 300 riot police encircled the area and blocked access from all direction. Police units started attacking those people who headed to the mosque to perform evening prayers. Traffic jam resulted on the busy Sheikh Salman Highway with many foreigners and tourists witnessing the event. Columns of cars stretched to several kilometres. When youth pulled back, the security forces chased them into the surrounding residential areas of Zenj and Bilad al-Qadeen deploying tear gas and rubber bullets. Live ammunition was fired in the air creating red-coloured clouds. Cars were sounding their horns and some have abandoned their cars after being hit by rubber bullets. Later, in Bilad al-Qadim, Sheikh Jasim Al-Khayyat ( a cleric) and three of his brothers were arrested. An oppressive oppression campaign extended to Southern Sehlah where Seyed Faisal Al-Talibi (a cleric) had earlier in the day been arrested. Security forces also raided Al-Zahra mosque in northern Qafool and confiscated equipment and the platform used for delivering sermons. This is the mosque which last Friday (5 January) was also attacked while Sheikh Mohammed Al-Rayyash was delivering a sermon. Al-Rayyash was arrested on the spot and remains in detention.

13 January: Fifteen security officers headed by the undersecretary of the interior ministry summoned eight leading opposition figures. Each person, including Sheikh Al-Jamri, was entered to a room and received a barrage of threats and badly behaved language. All personalities refused to stop calling for restoration of parliament in public gatherings.

14 January: Mr. Abdul Wahhab Hussain was arrested from his home in Nuweidrat. He had delivered a speech in Arad (Muharraq) in which explained the encounter with the 15 officers and stressed that the call for restoration of parliament would continue.

15 January: The editor-in-chief of the Jordanian newspaper “Al-Majd”, Mr. Fahad Al-Remawi was arrested following the publication of an article last February criticising abuse of human rights in Bahrain and calling for the removal of Ian Henderson. When relations between Jordan and the Gulf states improved last November, the Bahraini government demanded that Mr. Al-Remawi must be punished. He was arrested last month, harassed and due to appear before a court today (15 January).

16 January: At around 16.30 local time Sheikh Al-Jamri was arrested from his house in Bani Jamra, north-west of Bahrain. Mass demonstrations broke out in Bani Jamra, Sanabis, Daih and Jedhafs. Shortly afterwards, security forces arrived and blocked the main Budaya Highway. However, the situation was heading for explosion and the security forces released Sheikh al-Jamri few hours later. The secretary of Sheikh Al-Jamri (Seyed Taleb Abdul Nabi) had earlier been arrested in a dawn raid on his home in Qurraya village last Monday. The village of Nuweidrat has been under virtually continuous siege to prevent an outburst after the arrest last Sunday (14 January) of the leading opposition figure, Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain. Clashes continue to spread around Nuweidrat and Sitra region. In Karzakkan, Dair and Bilad al-Qadeem, flames of fire and sounds of explosions were heard during the night. Dawn raids by security forces has been intensified.

17 January: The Associated Press reported from Bahrain that ((Hundreds of guests were evacuated from the Royal Meridien Hotel on Wednesday after a small bomb exploded in a toilet on the ground floor. A man who did not identify himself telephoned The Associated Press and said: “We put two bombs in the Meridien Hotel. Tell the government we can reach wherever we want to reach.” The second bomb was discovered near the first one and defused, a security source said. No one was injured in the blast at the hotel, where an international oil conference had opened earlier in the day. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the bomb blew a hole in the ceiling and a door)).

18 January: At around 20.00 (17.00 GMT) clashes erupted simultaneously in all traditional uprising-areas of Bahrain. From Bani-Jamra and Duraz in the north-west of Bahrain to Sanbis (west of the capital Manama); from Qurrayya to the south-west village of Shahrakkan, from Dair to Samahij and Arad (in Muharraq), from Nuweidrat to Sitra, and in Hamad Town, people marched on the streets protesting against the attacks of security forces on mosques and detention of leading opposition figures. Clashes surfaced in Hamad Town for the firs time in the history of the uprising. The security forces encircled the house of Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri and detained him at 4.00 pm local time. He was set free two hours later. This is the third time Sheikh Al-Jamri is summoned or detained since last Saturday.

19 January: The Bahraini security forces stepped up their attacks on mosques. Several people leading prayers, amongst them Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri, Mr. Hassan Mushaimaa and Sheikh Ali bin Ahmad Al-Jedhafsi were either summoned or contacted yesterday by the security committee (created last year after eruption of events). The head of the committee, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Atteyat-Allah Al-Khalifa, threatened members of the opposition and banned prayers in several mosques, amongst them al-Sadek mosque in Duraz and the grand mosque in Qafool (a district of the capital Manama). Moreover, ten lorries packed with riot police besieged the house of Sheikh Al-Jamri this morning and fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators and prevent them from reaching the besieged area. Entries and exits of Duraz and Bani Jamra have been blocked by check-points. The banning of mosques and attacking people heading to pray behind leading opposition figure have now been tightened amid fears that Bahrain is entering another cycle of events with grave consequences. A spokesman for the Bahrain Freedom Movement stated “the government could not withstand the peaceful approach of the opposition and had to incite violence in order to justify oppressive measures. Playing with fire has no guaranteed outcome and the BFM calls on the government to stop this vicious cycle”.

20 January: Bahraini security forces mounted a major aggression against residential areas yesterday. In Duraz, they attacked houses and mosques, detaining people in random and destroying contents of mosques. At least 75 people were arrested amongst them Hajji Hasan Jar-Allah the 60-year old person in-charge of the grand Al-Sadek mosque. In Bani Jamra, Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri was put under house arrest starting from 3.00 am (Saturday 20 January). Some 20 members of his family and relatives were prevented from going out. Only children were allowed to go school. A garrison surrounded the house comprising 3 lorries packed with riot police, 4 jeeps and one civilian car. An old man who attempted to enter the house was beaten and kicked savagely by these forces. Food can only be brought-in by a relative who must hand everything from a distance before being told-off. Arrests in Bani Jamra include, Sheikh Abdul Mohsin Mulla Atteya, Omran Hussain Omran, Ali Abdul Wahhab (whose two brothers Jamil and Abdul Amir were arrested few days ago). Sanabis suffered another ferocious attack. Houses were raided, youth were taken away from beds and contents of mosques were destroyed. A person by the name Abdul Amir Darweesh was hit by a bullet in the chest and arm. He lies in critical condition at the International Hospital. Nasser Wahhab Nasser, 40 years old from Malkeyya was hit in the stomach by a rubber bullet and Ali Khalil Al-Helaiw, 26 years old from Malkeyya was hit by rubber bullet in the head. Makki Ali Abbas, 30 years old from Sitra was tortured during a detention lasting few days. His eyes, legs and rests are swollen as a result of the torture he received. In Zenj, a district at the outskirt of Manama, people resisted another aggression against their homes by other units of the security forces and clashes continued until after mid-night. Similar clashes took place in Bilad al-Qadim, Shahrakkan, Karzzakkan, Malkiya, Dair, Samahij, Sitra and Nuweidrat. In an unprecedented move the Bahraini Defence Force (BDF) issued a statement today threatening the use of military might against unarmed civilians to suppress demands for restoration of constitutional law in Bahrain. BDF statement referred to the “preparedness to perform security role in accordance with martial law”.

21 January: Sheikh Al-Jamri was arrested on 12.00 pm (mid-night) on Sunday 21 January 1996 after a house arrest that started on Saturday, 20 January 3.00 am. Check-points hav been established in villages and towns hindering the movement of people. Telephomne lines of many peope have been tempered with to prevennt communication of news.

24 January: A women screamed, yesterday, in the old market area of Manama after witnessing two security men (both were Indians) starting a fire near al-Khawajah mosque in Manama. Several people gathered and extinguished the blaze. An eye witness stated that people who helped extinguish the fire were arrested by police. The security forces have in the last few days smashed private cars and damaged private properties as part of their plan to justify their attacks on the peaceful movement demanding the restoration of the dissolved parliament. Two jeeps surrounded Momin mosque in the capital Manama. After filming the posters on the wall they confiscated all the contents of the mosque. Similarly, the security forces raided Al-Anwar mosque in Daih, Sheikh Khalaf mosque in Nuweidrat and Al-Sadeq mosque in Duraz. The attackers brought with them some items and photographed them outside and inside the mosques. The items are believed to be some sort of exploding devices and such trick is part of a plan to mount a campaign of deception. In Sitra, two lorries packed with burnt furniture were driven by police. The latter moved the burnt items into a new Post Office. A filming crew entered the post office and filmed the items inside. Police then removed the burnt furniture and drove-away. The interior ministry said that they had detained 544 people. This number is but a quarter of the detainees.

28 January: Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain and Mr. Hassan Mushaimaa were transferred to the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) hospital, on Friday, for force-feeding after going on hunger strike. Also, Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri and Hajji Hassan Jarallah were transferred to the BDF hospital after the deterioration of their health conditions. On the other hand, the security forces confiscated the safe at Sheikh Al-Jamri’s house containing donations for many poor families. Last April when the house was raided, the security forces sealed-off the safe, but this time they opted for confiscation.

29 January: Clashes intensified in Karzakkan village, west of Bahrain. The security forces conducted last night a vicious search for any person suspected of participating in the clashes. They fired live ammunition in the air and attacked people with rubber bullets and smothering tear gas, believed to be containing ammonia as some affected people extremely suffer after inhalation and infrequently fall unconscious. Security forces damaged private properties and smashed windows of private cars as a form of collective punishment. They entered houses and asked “where are your sons ?” and imprisoned as many as they could. Duraz was also the scene of loud explosions and helicopters were deployed to frighten residents. Curfew was imposed after 10.00 pm in uprising-areas. The wealthy Al-Haddad family (responsible for looking after the grand mosque in Al-Qafool) were ordered to close down the mosque at 9.30 every night or face punishment. Similar threats were made to others in charge of leading mosques around the country.


29 JANUARY 1996

In the wake of mass arrests following renewed clashes between protesters and security forces in Bahrain this month, Amnesty International last week called on the government to immediately release anyone jailed just for peacefully demonstrating.

“It is appalling that these demonstrators have been arrested simply for expressing their political opinions,” Amnesty International said.

In a letter to the Bahraini Government on 23 January, Amnesty International sought urgent assurances that all those detained are treated humanely and are allowed access to families, lawyers and medical attention if necessary. The organization also requested information about political detainees, including the charges against those accused of recognizably criminal offences, with assurances that they be given fair and prompt trials in accordance with international standards.

Reported mass arrests followed renewed clashes at the beginning of the month in many areas including Bani Jamra, Sitra, Jiddhafs and al-Sanabes, in which protestors demonstrated against the closure by security forces of a number of mosques where prominent Muslim Shi’a clerics had been calling on the government to restore democratic rights. In some cases, family members were held hostage as a way of coercing sought-after relatives to turn themselves in.

By 28 January, the government said it had arrested 180 people in connection with this month’s unrest, while opposition groups and lawyers said up to 2,000 people may have been held — most taken from their homes in dawn raids or from street check points. All are believed to be held incommunicado.

Among those held are eight Shi’a leaders and clerics who the government says it will try for “instigating and organizing violence”. The eight, who had been arrested during earlier unrest last year and released in September 1995, are Shaikh Abd al-Amir al-Jamri, Shaikh Hussein el-Deihi, Shaikh Ali bin Ahmed al-Jeddhafsi, Shaikh Ali Ashour, Shaikh Hassan Sultan, Sayyed Ibrahim Adnan al-Alawi, Hussein Meshema’a. Also detained on 22 January was Salah Abdallah Ahmed al-Khawaja who was freed a week earlier at the end of a seven-year sentence for political opposition.


In addition to the recent arrests, up to 600 remain held since last year’s unrest which began in December 1994. In January 1995, heavy clashes erupted when the government expelled seven Shi’a leaders who had been demanding a restoration of parliament and other democratic rights. At least 12 demonstrators were killed, and hundreds were held incommunicado for varying periods of time. Two detainees are known to have died in custody. Most of those who remained in detention have been held without charge or trial. Some have been tried and one, Issa Qambar, has been sentenced to death in an unfair trial.

Protests resumed in October 1995 with demands for the release of all detainees. They escalated from school and mosque sit-ins to clashes with security forces. The 600 detainees include students and school children as young as seven, some of whom were released after up to a week in detention without access to family or lawyers.

Amnesty International is concerned that the detainees continue to be held incommunicado and face the threat of torture. It is also concerned that trials at the State Security Court, which has tried many of the defendants, are unfair.

The organization has repeatedly written to the Government of Bahrain requesting permission for a fact-finding mission to visit the country and meet with government officials. There has been no positive answer to date.

Amnesty International’s concerns and recommendations have been detailed in a report issued in September 1995, entitled Bahrain: A Human rights Crisis, which covered the December 1994 to April 1995 unrest.

If you are a UK based journalist and require further information please call the AIUK Press Office on 0171 814 6248 or e-mail

If you are reading this page within the UK and require further information or more information about AIUK contact the AIUK Information Office on 0171 814 6200 or e-mail

If you are reading this page outside of the UK and require further information about Amnesty, please contact your local section or the International Secretariat of Amnesty International.

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