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May 1997: Ashora processions declare “No Solution without the constitution”

5 May: The distinguished lawyer Abdul Shahid Khalaf was detained for three days starting 5 May. The Al-Khalifa’s foreign mercenaries confiscated the personal computer as well as other belongings from the lawyer’s offices and residence. The highly respected lawyer had received many threats from the interior ministry because of his skillful defence of the victims brought before the Al-Khalifa’s State Security Court. The threats received from the intelligence department were implemented in line with the new forms of abuses.

5 May: One of the notorious torturers, Khalil al-Sa’ati was killed by a police officer, today 5 May, at 11.00 am, local time. Khalil Al-Sa’ati works in the Qudeibia Police Station under the command of Abdul Salam Al-Ansari, another notorious officer. Al-Sa’ati was the person who attacked female students in Manama Secondary School in 1995, and was one of the main persons used for the attacks on mosques and assembly halls. He had tortured scores of people and this explains the way the news of his death was received by the people. A spokesman for the interior ministry stated to Reuters that Al-Sa’ati was “shot dead on Monday in a dispute with another military man..”.Al-Sa’ati was killed by another officer named Abdul-Halim. It is believed that the two had been engaged in drugs and male-prostitution activities. Some differences had surfaced between the two and those difference resulted in the killing.

6 May: Political detainees in al-Khamis prison started a hunger strike on 6 May protesting against over-crowding and lack of family-visits.

7 May: The interior ministry summoned the heads of the assembly halls that were shut down by the security forces few weeks ago. The assembly halls were opened later in the day as the Al-Khalifa realized that they will lose more by these closures. The meeting with he heads of the matams (assembly halls) was conducted by Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, the undersecretary of the interior ministry.

8-9 May: On the first days of Ashura (the 10 days at the start of the new Islamic year) clashes erupted (8 and 9 May) in Bilad al-Qadim, Markh, Sitra, Nuaim Ras-Romman and Karanah. The foreign mercenaries, repressing the citizens on behalf of the Al-Khalifa family, attacked the residents in these places during the traditional preparations for Ashura. One person from Bilad al-Qadim was injured in the face by a rubber bullet. Nine children who fell down because of the intensive tear gas were arrested and taken to the Al-Khamis Police Station. Many arrests were also reported across the country.

10 May: Lord Avebury raised the issue of Bahrain in the British House of Lords on 10 May, stating “will the Foreign Office, as part of its new dispensation, seek to persuade the ruler [of Bahrain] to free the leaders of the constitutional movement who are detained without trial and engage in dialogue with them? That would be a big shift in policy .. So it is a good test of the Government’s intentions to see whether they will now speak to the Emir of Bahrain”.

10 May: The State Security Court presided by a member of the ruling Al-Khalifa family dragged more Bahraini children on Saturday 10 May. Six persons (all from Jabalt Habshi) aged between 16-19 were brought back for a second session. Their defence lawyer, Mr. Ahmad Al-Shamlan had protested that the detention of persons under 18 for more than a year and then forcing them before a security court contravene the obligations which Bahrain had made to the UN when it signed the Convention for the Rights of the Child in 1992. The Al-Khalifa government refuses to submit any periodic report on the rights of the child hoping for an escape from international monitoring. The al-Khalifa are assuming that as long as they only torture the children and members of the Shia community, they can get away with their crimes. All correspondence made by the representatives of the Al-Khalifa to the outside world emphasis, directly and indirectly, this hate-based policy. Similarly, on 10 May, the same “judge” vented his hatred against ten Bahrainis aged between 15 and 23 accused of participating in the popular protests. All the accused in both cases denied the allegation of committing any arson. These youths had been picked up as part of the collective punishment policy.

10 May: In Kuwait, two more Bahrainis (Abdul Nabi Al-Asfoor and Adel Al-Hayki) were released on bail of $660 (KD 200). There are four persons remaining in administrative detention.

11 May: Sheikh Isa Qassim, member of both the Constituent and National Assemblies issued a statement on 11 May asserting that the traditional processions of Ashora are inherent rights of the people. Qassim reminded that Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri has only been detained because he manifested a voice of freedom.

12 May: Following their attacks on assembly halls (matams), the foreign security forces arrested Hajji Abbas Fadhil and Ali Al Wannan, who head “Mattam Hajji Abbass” in Manama. Both were released a day later on 12 May. The intelligence department demanded that the pro-democracy slogans stop. The heads of assembly halls have all the way explained to the foreign forces that the traditional processions will march through the streets in any way or form and slogans are bound to be raised. The heads of all principal assembly halls met in the Religious Trust (Awqaf) Department and spoke to the interior ministry stating that ‘if the security forces arrest any head of matam, then all will resign “. The undersecretary of the interior ministry said that he will “order Abdul Salam Al-Ansari (chief of Manama Police) to stop arresting heads of matams”. It is astonishing to see how the ruling family that claims to be “well-established” fails to comprehend the basics of governing Bahrain. Procession are permitted by the constitution of Bahrain that was ratified by both the representatives Al-Khalifa and the people. The ruling family has managed to destroy many features of popularly- and voluntarily-based functions. Clubs, cultural associations, discussion groupings, and virtually all other forms of civil society have either been dismantled or monopolized.

12 May: Tens of thousands of men, women and children of all ages marched through the streets of towns and villages across the country on the occasion of Ashora chanting traditional and pro-democracy slogans as well as raising placards and banners carrying images of the imprisoned and exiled opposition leaders. Manama, Sanabis, Daih, Bilad al-Qadim, Karbabad, Iskan-Aa’li and other major centres of congregations, witnessed some of the highest concentrations of participants. Thousands of pictures for the martyrs of the 30-month old uprising were distributed as well as leaflets calling on the ruling Al-Khalifa family to stop importing and deploying foreign forces against the nation. Slogans such as “Parliament is the only solution”, “Release Sheikh Al-Jamri”, “Stop killing, arson and torture”, “We will never be defeated”, etc. were painted on the walls in front of the foreign riot-police that were positioned in many locations around the areas of mass processions.

14 May: On 14 May, at 3.00 pm the foreign forces attacked Nuweidrat with tear gas and rubber bullets. The undisciplined riot police smashed private properties and arrested scores of citizens. Several people were injured and some have been taken to hospital for medical treatment. In Sar and Ain al- Dar, the security forces unashamedly attacked and ransacked the local assembly halls. The residents condemned the outrageous aggression and went in larger numbers than is normal.

“Matam Bin Salloom” and “Matam Haji Abbas” witnessed intensive presence with more than one kilometer- long processions raising the pro-democracy demands. Similarly, other principal matams (assembly halls) witnessed gathering of huge numbers, in defiance of the foreign forces that are unable to understand the culture and tradition of a large section of Bahrain society.

The foreign forces besieged the capital in an attmpt to prevent people from pouring into the capital for the procession. Nevertheless, the strength of will of the people was unbeatable. Armoured vehicles were seen around “Matam Bin Salloom” and Sahari Hotel. The traditional procession are being targeted by the security forces that fear any gathering in Bahrain.

14 May: Injuries from the atrocious attack against the residents of Nuweidrat on 14 May indicate the extent of hatred of those who authorized the foreign forces for such attacks. The mercenaries, who were led by an officer named Abdulla Al-Zayed, started their aggression by ransacking the local assembly hall (matam). Then, they encircled the area and started beating the citizens in an arbitrary manner. By the evening, they deployed rubber bullets and tear gas. A 17-year old girl, Khadija Ibrahim Hussein lost one of her eyes when a rubber bullet hit her in the critical position. The wife of Ali Derbas was beaten by the mercenaries until exhaustion. Another lady by the name Narjis was hit in the chest by a bullet. An elderly person, Ali Matar was hit by bullet in the back. Abdul Nabi Ahmad Hussain, 55, was hit in the leg. The wife of Abdulla Zaid, 55, was arrested when she resisted the attack on her house. Following these injuries, the mercenaries toured the area damaging cars’ windows and private properties. Three mosques were also ransacked.

Seyed Jalal Mostafa al-Kamil, from Jedhafs, was arbitrarily arrested last week on his way back from Manama. A group of foreign forces stopped him and ordered him to kiss their shoes. As the dignified citizens refused to do so, the foreigners tortured him on the spot and left him bleeding on the road. He was taken to hospital for emergency treatment and is still suffering from the injuries.

18 May: The youths held in the Dry Dock prison-camp (Hidd) were attacked by prison officers on 18 May and many prisoners were separated for further torturing. The clash occurred when prisoners demanded a permission for holding a ceremony to commemorate Ashora occasion.

18-20 May: The security forces waged an aggressive attack against the residents of Daih. They attacked the main assembly hall (Matam) and destroyed its contents. Then, they attacked one of the main mosques and started beating the people inside. Bashir Abdulla Ahmad Fadhil was one of those severely injured. He was transferred to hospital and died a short time later.

A spokesman for the government stated to an international news agency that Mr. Fadhil was “involved with drugs” and that he died of “natural causes”. Investigations by the BFM did confirm that the said person had been imprisoned for drug- related problems But the investigation also confirmed that the “security forces attacked Daih residents after the end of Ashora procession on Sunday 18 May. The security forces, according to witnesses, ransacked the main assembly hall and attacked people in the nearby mosque. They arrested some 30 people and started beating many others arbitrarily. Mr. Fadhil suffered extensively from the beating. The riot police arrested Mr. Fadhil and on Tuesday 20 May, they escorted his dead body to the cemetery. Only his family was allowed to be around the grave during burial”. A spokesperson for the BFM commented on the statements of the government spokesman saying: “suppose a member of the ruling family was beaten to death and suppose also that he had been a drug- addict, would the Al-Khalifa say that their son was killed or would they say that he died of natural causes??”

20 May: The security forces arrested Jamila Salman (whose husband is in jail) from Daih together with Salman Al-Haddad and his wife (Om-Majid). The two ladies were released a day later but are still being summoned for intimidation and for exerting pressure on their jailed husbands. Three women from A’ali were also arrested.

21 May: Some stores in Tobli were set on fire by arsonists while a bigger fire was reported in Jedhafs on 20 May that destroyed a large storage designated for timber and mechanical equipment. The opposition denounces all forms of arsons and blames these irresponsible acts on the foreign mercenaries who have been committing these arsons in an attempt to stain the peaceful opposition. The arsonists aim to create divisions amongst the people. For example, the house (in Barbar) of Mr. Abdul Rahman Fakhro (brother of the national figure Dr. Monira Fakhro ) was burnt three times in order to punish Dr. Fakhro for her views.

21 May: The son of the Amir, Mohamed bin Isa, who was appointed as head of the so-called National Guard, was shown on TV with a group of his mercenaries attacking residential buildings. Up until 1923, the Al-Khalifa used to depend on death squads called “Fedawwya”. These were disbanded following the uprising of 1922 that brought down the old regime and the present Al-Khalifa members are re-introducing into Bahrain similar death squads.

Bahrain humbug!

(Private Eye, No 925, Friday 30th May 1997)

IN ONE fell swoop the election has swept away the famous Four Tory MPs who regularly visited Bahrain and spoke up for its oppressive regime and dictator, the amir.

David Mellor (Putney), Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam), Tony Marlow (Northampton) and, above all, William Powell (Corby) all lost their seats. Even worse for the amir, Jeremy Hanley, the foreign office minister who could always be relied on to emphasise the importance of good relations between the British and Bahraini government, has gone too. Hanley has been replaced at the FO by Derek Fatchett, the leftist Leeds Labour MP. The growing community of Bahraini dissidents who have fled to London remember a stirring speech by Mr Fatchett at a meeting organised by the Council for Arab-British Understanding on 13 March. Fatchett eloquently expressed his “deep concern” about human rights in Bahrain, a matter he said he raised “continuously”.

As foreign office minister, Mr Fatchett was all smiles and warm handshakes when he met the Bahraini ambassador on 15 May. On 20 May he greeted Sheikh Ali Bin Khalifa, minister of transport in Bahrain and son of the prime minister there. Asked in the House of Commons about the first meeting, Mr Fatchett said: “We intend to have a close and frank relationship with Bahrain. I’ve had a useful discussion with the Bahraini ambassador on human right and other issues.” Exiles from Bahrain are poring over this text to try to find any difference from what they used to hear from Jeremy Hanley.END.

A Kuwaiti Open Letter

Kuwaiti personalities, human rights activists and politicians submitted an open letter on 7 May 1997 to the Kuwaiti Parliament stating: “The Kuwaiti people have suffered from the violations of the State Security Apparatus in the period prior to the Iraqi occupation, when the constitution and parliament were bypassed and dissolved. Many were persecuted including national figures and representatives of the people. Following the liberation and return of the country, thanks God, to the people, the hope that prevailed amongst the public is that the previous violations and outdated mentality would not be returned. This was the belief of the people as manifested in the parliament of 1992 and as documented in a special report on factual assessment for the causes of the crisis.

With deep sorrow, however, we were discouraged when on 9/4/1997, several residential places of Bahraini citizens living in our country were raided by the State Security Apparatus and when several arrests were made. These arrests violate the human rights guaranteed by our constitution and violate international conventions. Such a matter would have a negative impact on our country’s reputation abroad, especially with such bodies as Human Rights Commissions and Amnesty International.

We, the undersigned, reaffirm our dedication for security and stability of the country and demand that the Parliament intervenes and implements the necessary measures, through the legislative and monitoring powers of the Parliament, to put and end to these violations and to ensure that they are not repeated.

Signed by scores of personalities, including: Dr. Ahmad Al-Khatib, Jasim Al-Qatami, Khalid Al-Wasmi, Abdulla Al-Bekr, Abdul Wahab Al-Wazzan, Abdul Mohsin Yousif Jamal, Dr. Abdulla Sahar, Abdul Hadi Al-Saleh, Dr. Yousif Al-Zalzala, Jasim Mohammed Al-Motawwa, Dr. Jaffer Abbas Hajji, Khalid Al-Shatti, Saleh Ahmad Hassan, Hussain Ali Al-Gharib, Suleiman Mohammed Othman Al-Mosa, Ahmad Al-Dayyin, Dr. Ghanim Al-Najjar, Dr. Ahmad Al-Baghdadi, Sami Naser Al-Khalidi, Abdul Aziz Abdulla Al-Rubei, Mohamed Al-Ghorbalali, Abdul Hadi al-Wazzan, Mohammed Abdulla Khalid, Dr. Hamid Al-Abdulla, Dr. Saif Abbas Abdulla, Dr. Ahmad Al-Refai, Yasir Mohammed Hussain Saleh, Abdulla Al-Subayei, Dr. Falah al-Medeires. Dr. Abdulla Sahar, university professor, told AFP “we as a group believe in democracy and human rights, and have expressed our concern about the arrests”. Khalid Al-Shatti, the defence lawyer said that the case has no legal grounds and is politically driven.

While the Kuwaitis sacrifices young Bahrainis, the Al-Khalifa crown prince met with an Iraqi official, Ahmad Tayes Abdulla, on 11 May to improve “bilateral relations”. The Iraqi official stated that he “hoped that other Arab countries would follow the example of Bahrain”. Kuwaiti students who participated in an activity at the University of Bahrain on 21 May were prevented from raising the pictures of Kuwaiti prisoners in Iraq. The Kuwaitis were also prevented from distributing anything to other students. On 25 May, local press published remarks about “Iraq/Turkey” attributed to the prime minister highlighting the same trend.

British companies exported torture equipment to Al-Khalifa

The Guardian newspaper (G2 supplement page iv) revealed on 13 May 1997 that British companies exported torture equipment to the Al-Khalifa government in Bahrain. The newspaper said “in 1990,a torture chamber given the alias “The House of Fun” was exported by a British company and installed by the Bahraini police special branch in Dubai….. Provided they are not assembled in Britain beforehand, current UK export controls allow such pieces of hardware to be exported. Even when British companies do act illegally, there is an apparent lack of willingness to prosecute an industry which helps the UK’s balance of trade deficit. The UK, along with France, Germany and the USA have all signed the UN Convention on Human Rights, but they all still breach the convention in the name of profit”.

The article entitled “Taught then tortured” was dedicated to a Bahraini student who graduated from Cardiff University and is now adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. The article said “On March 6, Sayyid was arrested at his home during a dawn raid by the national authorities and taken him to the al-Qal’a compound in al-Manama, where Amnesty International reports indicate he has undergone interrogation and beating from Bahrain’s intelligence officials”… “But the (British) government was far from willing to work towards the protection of the rights of these people when they return to regimes that are not as liberal as our own. For Sayyid Jalal Sharaf and his family, the recent change in government may have come too late.

But how will Robin Cook deal with the export of the technology of torture to countries with such records on human rights violations? Sayyid Jalal Sharaf and his friends at Cardiff are still waiting for an answer”.

Institutionalized discrimination by Al-Khalifa

Few days after the departure of the Amir on a private trip, the crown prince, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa moved swiftly to consolidate his position. He issued three “Amiri Orders” on 5 May appointing three persons for senior positions in the “Ruling Family Council (RFC)” . Mohammed Hamad Abdulla Ibrahim Al-Khalifa was appointed as Director General of the RFC with the rank of a “minister”, Hemood Khalifa Mohamed Abdulla Al-Khalifa was appointed as deputy to the Director General with the rank of “under-secretary”; and Abdulla Khalifa Salman Al-Khalifa as member.

The RFC was established in the period between the Constituent Assembly and the National Assembly in 1973. The RFC’s creation was aimed at unifying the ruling Al-Khlaifa family in the face of the newly established National Assembly and to prevent any move from some enlightened al-Khalifa members (one of whom became a member of the parliament) to integrate the Al-Khalifa family within the Bahraini society as normal citizens. The RFC maintains the balance between the various factions, distributes the monetary and land “free” allocations amongst the Al-Khalifa family, and represents any Al-Khalifa member in courts or in any dispute with citizens and residents of Bahrain.

On the other hand the crown prince received (on 5 May) the commander of the Special Operations of the Jordanian armed forces, Prince Abdulla bin Hussain. Last November, the Jordanian commander attended a tactical exercise conducted jointly with the Bahrain Defence Force that come under the crown prince. After that visit, the crown prince formed the “National Guard”. The National Guard was formed for countering the powers of the prime minister who controls all the security forces. The crown prince also met with a French Defence Ministry official to negotiate the purchase of military equipment for the so-called “National Guard”. Last February, the crown prince and foreign minister met with British Defence Ministry officials for a similar negotiation. The victory of the Labour Party in the UK was not well received by the Al-Khalifa family.

Day by day, the inhuman and hate-based policies and practices of the outdated tribal-feudal dictatorship imposed on the civilized nation of Bahrain reveal further ugly pictures. The ruling wing of the Al-Khalifa family is violating all national and international norms by continuing to deny the citizens all their basic rights. The tribal political system is attacking the indigenous population with extreme hatred. The Al-Khalifa closed down four religious assembly halls (matams) last months and sealed their gates with red-wax. No rule has ever attempted such intimidation in the history of the nation. Even the Portuguese (known for their use of shear force) did not treat the indigenous population in such a manner when they invaded Bahrain in the sixteenth century.

Today there are several religious teaching schools that were closed down in the Eighties and stand as a proof that this regime has no intention of respecting any norm. The Islamic Enlightenment Society, for example (with three visible buildings at the entrance of Duraz village on the Budaya Highway) was closed down in 1984 and sealed with red-wax. The ruined building are sharp reminders of the type of the hatred the ruling Al-Khalifa family possesses. Similarly, a library in Aali and a religious teaching school in Tobli remain closed down and sealed with red wax for more than a decade, further highlighting the policy of institutionalized discrimination against the indigenous population.

The opposition has records of names of students who were refused entry to the University of Bahrain, despite the fact they scored pass rates (in the secondary schools) between 85-95%. The military officer installed by the ruling family declared in September 1996 that he authorized a selection criterion based on “other factors”. All those who had been refused entry come from the Shia indigenous population. Moreover, the opposition has documented more than 170 names of students who were expelled from the university and schools.

The recent reorganization of administration of the state witnessed more discrimination of the crudest form. Out of a cabinet of 18 persons, 9 are from the Al-Khalifa. Out of 26 ministries and semi-ministries, 14 are from the Al-Khalifa. Out of 420 top officials, 17% are from Al-Khalifa, occupying all sensitive posts; 60% come from the Sunni section of the population; and 23% come from the Shia section of the society, occupying service-positions that have no strategic importance. A complete or virtual (virtual means one or two low-key person might be present amongst 10 or 20 top officials) wipe-out of the Shia is visible in several areas such as Interior, Defence, Statistics Organization, Sports Organization, Universities of Bahrain and the Arabian Gulf, Development and Industry, Justice, Central Bank, Civil Service Bureau, Education., Pension Fund & Social Insurance, etc. A similar wipe-out was implemented in relation to strategic industries.

These policies are similar to earlier ones implemented in the early Eighties. They were the policies that contributed to the eruption of events in the Nineties. The newly adopted policies will ensure that the struggle for justice and democracy can never cease. Bahrainis have before them the apartheid regime of South Africa which was not saved by all such policies.

FIDH : No Human Rights in Bahrain

The Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), issued a report on the “Human Rights Situation in Bahrain – 1996”. The report detailed context of the violation in relations to the country’s constitution, the legal background and international law. The report summarized the violations of human rights through extra-judicial killing, torture, collective punishment, arbitrary detention, unfair trials, abuse of women and children, forcible exiles, discrimination (against the indigenous Shia community), lack of freedom of expression, interference in academic institutions, denial of citizenship, political interference in employment, etc.

The report called on the Western countries to uphold the principles of human rights, especially following the recent move by the ruling family to equip its recently established “National Guard”. A delegation from the Al-Khalifa family visited Britain last February to negotiate the purchasing of arms for future use against the Bahraini people who are demanding the restoration of the rule of constitutional law.

Human Rights are indivisible

A delegation of Bahraini human rights activists participated in the UN Working Group session on the rights of minorities and indigenous population, held in the period between 26-30 May 1997. The delegation submitted two interventions on the lack of democracy and spread of human rights abuses in Bahrain. The delegation presented the crisis in Bahrain where the rule of constitutional law has disappeared, where no person is allowed to express him or herself freely, where voluntary associations are restricted in their activities to non-political spheres, where many people are denied of their citizenship , where citizens are forcibly exiled, where citizens are arbitrarily arrested and tortured and where citizens are brought before unconstitutional courts to receive pre-determined political sentences.

Ahmad Al-Haddad, who represents the Bahraini government at the UN in Geneva defended the abuse of human rights by his government by repeatedly stating two points: That what happens in Bahrain must be viewed against the background of events which were orchestrated by “saboteurs”; and that Bahrain is not signatory to the covenant concerning civil and political rights.

Human Rights are defined as those rights that every human being is entitled to enjoy and to have protected regardless of their cultural and ethnic background. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights covers two broad sets of rights. One set is known as Civil and Political Rights. The other set of rights is known as Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. All these rights are aimed at freeing human societies from fear and want and these are the bases for justice and peace in the world. All member states of the UN are held, at least theoretically, responsible for the protection of human rights proclaimed by the declaration. All government are required, by virtue of their UN membership, to protect the life, liberty and security of their citizens. They should guarantee that no person is enslaved and that no citizen is subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention or torture. Everyone is entitled to to a fair trial. The rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and to freedom of expression are to be protected.

In the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993, all member states pledged to uphold the high status of human rights. The conference universally recognised “all human rights are universal, indivisible, independent and interrelated”. It is shameless on the Bahraini government to deny its citizens the rights that it seemingly pledged to protect. The abuse of human rights of all citizens and discrimination against the indigenous population has reached record levels and the international community must reprimand the ruling family if peace and harmony are to take roots in Bahrain.

A 115-page (A5 size) book published this month (May 1997) detailed the human rights abuses and events of the period between December 1994 and December 1996. “Bahrain Briefing” by Karen Dabrowska, ISBN 1 901807 002 (available from Colourmast Ltd. Fax: (44) 171 739 2991) concluded: “Save the Arab-Israeli conflict, the tiny emirate of Bahrain suffers from almost every problem that the Arab world is heir to… It would be disastrous to allow the Algerian syndrome to afflict the Bahraini community while there is still room for reconciliation”.

Article on Bahrain

Bahrain humbug!

(Private Eye, No 925, Friday 30th May 1997)

IN ONE fell swoop the election has swept away the famous Four Tory MPs who regularly visited Bahrain and spoke up for its oppressive regime and dictator, the amir.

David Mellor (Putney), Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam), Tony Marlow (Northampton) and, above all, William Powell (Corby) all lost their seats. Even worse for the amir, Jeremy Hanley, the foreign office minister who could always be relied on to emphasise the importance of good relations between the British and Bahraini government, has gone too. Hanley has been replaced at the FO by Derek Fatchett, the leftist Leeds Labour MP. The growing community of Bahraini dissidents who have fled to London remember a stirring speech by Mr Fatchett at a meeting organised by the Council for Arab-British Understanding on 13 March. Fatchett eloquently expressed his “deep concern” about human rights in Bahrain, a matter he said he raised “continuously”.

As foreign office minister, Mr Fatchett was all smiles and warm handshakes when he met the Bahraini ambassador on 15 May. On 20 May he greeted Sheikh Ali Bin Khalifa, minister of transport in Bahrain and son of the prime minister there. Asked in the House of Commons about the first meeting, Mr Fatchett said: “We intend to have a close and frank relationship with Bahrain. I’ve had a useful discussion with the Bahraini ambassador on human right and other issues.” Exiles from Bahrain are poring over this text to try to find any difference from what they used to hear from Jeremy Hanley.

Go Back to Data Base News for 1997

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