While the government threatens a blood bath

The opposition consolidates its action and calls for dialogue

* 1 November: At 9.00 pm, some 85,000 people gathered in Bani Jamra, north-west of Bahrain to listen the statement made by Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri declaring the end of hunger strike that lasted ten days. Sheikh Al-Jamri gave details of the agreement reached with the Bahrain government in August. He explained how the deal was struck and announced the names of the people who witnessed the meeting between himself and both the interior and labour ministers back in August. The government did not comply with its promise to release all political detainees by the end of September, and instead, many teenagers were put on trials accused of political activities. This, Al-Jamri stated, created a charged atmosphere that was about to erupt. The hunger strike came to regain the initiative and notify the government of the grave consequence of the continuation of political deadlock.

The statement made it clear that the decision to end the hunger strike was made to give the government an opportunity to rectify the situation be healing the wounds and establishing serious dialogue.

* 5 November: In a meeting held on Sunday 5th of November, six security officers delivered what amount to an ultimatum to the seven opposition leaders who staged a hunger strike for ten days between 23 October and 1 November. The meeting was held at the Isa Town Police Headquarters and was attended by senior security personnel including: Sheikh Abdul Aziz Atteyatalla Al-Khalifa (Head of the Investigation Committee that detained 5,000 people and killed two under torture since last December), Ahmad Abdul Rahman Bu-Ali deputy of Ian Henderson for administrative affairs, Abdulla Musallam, as well as three other officers.

The seven opposition leaders went to the headquarters accompanied by their lawyers, but the latter had to wait outside at the request of the security officers. Sheikh Abdul Aziz Atteyatalla Al-Khalifa stated that “the aim of the meeting is to pass a warning to you that you must not lead prayers in mosques outside your residential areas, that you must not contact any opposition group or news organization outside or inside the country, that you must not issue any statement, that you must not gather anywhere without prior permission, that the security forces will use all its authorities to crackdown any mass gathering”.

Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri replied that “this is an unacceptable attitude and a very negative response to our contributions in calming down the situation. We had an agreement with the Interior Ministry, and this was violated by the government. We also requested the lawyers to stay out of this meeting because you requested so. We demand that you write all these warnings on papers. We do not consider these threats to be the official position of the political leadership”.

The meeting ended with both sides preparing themselves for the worst to come. On the same day (5 November) both the prime minster and crown prince were quoted with hawkish statements by local media. The prime minister stated that “security and stability on top of our priorities”, while the crown prince implicitly declared the preparedness of his special unit for the crackdown by praising “skills of the special unit”.

Following the stormy meeting the local press published an announcement on 6 November by the Interior Ministry amounting to a declaration of a state of emergency. The latter declared that any gathering of more than five people would be dispersed and, if necessary, fire arms would be used. Lorries packed with riot police were deployed in all areas where previous gatherings took place. The opposition leaders who received the ultimatum defied these measures and declared them illegal. The many tens of thousands of people who participated in the gatherings in the past few days have complied with the request of their leaders to stay calm and avoide street clashes. At the same time, it was made clear that neither the opposition leaders nor their followers considered the government’s action as legal or moral and hence “these measures will be resisted by all means”.

The government of Bahrain is losing yet another golden opportunity to settle the crisis. Instead of adopting a rational approach, the ruling Al-Khalifa family wrongly decided to warn that they will re-use violence against the peaceful opposition movement. The military man installed as president of Bahrain University issued an instruction on 6 November notifying the university guards that from now onwards the Interior Ministry will be fully in-charge of the university security. This provocative act is not only undermining the standard of the university but is also exacerbating the situation by providing yet another proof of the ill-intentions of the ruling family.

Military forces have been deployed around strategic locations in the country as part of the un-wise moves by the government.

A campaign of rumours and distortion of facts has accompanied these oppressive measures. Hassan Al-Laquees of the London-based Saudi-financed Al-Hayat newspaper wrote two false news items on 8th and 9th of November. On 8th November, he assigned statements to Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri that never took place. Quotations were made to a speech which can be viewed by video and which proves that non of what Al-Laquees reported was true.

Similarly, on November 9th, Al-Laquees claimed that six opposition leaders (including Sheikh Al-Jamri) pledged for a pardon from the Amir before their release last August and September. All the opposition leaders have declared their positions clearly by falsifying these inaccuracies. The reporter published extracts from a letter he alleged to have been sent by opposition leaders to the government. Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain stated “we can never apologize because we did not commit any mistake in calling for the rights of the people”. All other leaders have reiterated the demands of the people, most important of which is the reinstatement of the constitution and parliament. They said they would pursue these goals in every peaceful way.

The few days that followed witnessed a range of governmental provocative measures as part of attempts to intimidate the opposition. While the Bahraini people continued their normal lives, the security forces were charged with intimidating the public. For example on 12 November, a bus taking students to schools was stopped by the riot police near Qadam area. The students were savagely attacked and beaten with electronic batons by the security forces for no obvious reason. Similarly, these police units, have been going around the houses after midnight and disturbing the public. At several occasions, they were seen banging and damaging the front doors of opposition activists. Eight students from Karzakan village were arrested on 13 November and remain in detention.

In a move believed to be the signal for the new wave of crackdown on the peaceful opposition in Bahrain, the interior ministry announced, today 23 November, that a small shop in Bilad-al-Qadeem (for ironing cloths) was set-ablaze yesterday (22 November) and that a security operation is underway to find the criminals. Leaders of the opposition have confirmed that non of what happened (if it ever took place) has anything to do with the opposition.

The declaration of the oppressive campaign was preceded by a verbal warning delivered last Sunday by Dr. Faisal Al-Zeera, member of the powerless Consultative Council. Al-Zeera stated to the leading opposition figure, Sheikh Al-Jamri, that the security forces are planning for “a blood bath”. The opposition has been preparing itself for the crackdown. All leading figures have already contacted their lawyers in preparation for defending their peaceful and constitutional demands.

  COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS Fifty-third session Item 8 (a) of the provisional agenda


Decisions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention


Communication addressed to the Government of Bahrain on 14 August 1995.

Concerning: Sheikh Abdul Amir al-Jamri and Malika Singais, on the one hand and the State of Bahrain, on the other.

1. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in accordance with the methods of work adopted by it and in order to carry out its task with discretion, objectivity and independence, forwarded to the Government concerned the above-mentioned communication received by it and found to be admissible, in respect of allegations of arbitrary detention reported to have occurred. 2. The Working Group notes with appreciation the information forwarded by the Government concerned in respect of the cases in question within 90 days of the transmittal of the letter by the Working Group. 3. The Working Group further notes that the Government concerned has informed the Group (which fact has been confirmed by the source) that the above-mentioned persons are no longer in detention. 4. Having examined the available information, and without prejudging the nature of the detention, the Working Group decides to file the cases of Sheikh Abdul Amir al-Jamri and Malika Singais in terms of paragraph 14 (a) of its methods of work.

Adopted on 24 November 1995.

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