Petitions calling for democracy in Bahrain
These are some of the historic petitions submitted to the Amir of Bahrain calling on him to restore the rule of constitutional law and to reinstate the elected parliament that was dissolved in 1975 after nearly two years of existence.
Translation of the Petition Submitted to the Amir of Bahrain on 15 November 1992
His Highness Sheikh Essa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa, the Amir of the State of Bahrain.
Peace be upon you,
In a historic moment, your highness had approved the Constitution of the State of Bahrain on 12.11.1393 A.H. (6 December 1973) after it had been discussed and approved by the Constituent Assembly which you had called for it to be established according to Law No. 12/1972 of 9.5.1392 A.H.
At the time you were recalling Bahrain’s history in the context of Arabism and Islam, and were anticipating with faith and determination, a future based on consultation and justice, rich in participation in carrying out the responsibilities of government and administration, ensuring freedom and equality, and confirming fraternity and social solidarity, as stated in preamble of the constitution. This constitution laid down the basis of popular participation in public rights and duties on a strong footing based on the principles of consultation as outlined by our Islamic religion, and on the principles of justice, freedom and equality which have always been deep-rooted in the Islamic and human civilizations.
That process was a pioneering change targeted by your highness in order to establish a modern system to govern the state of Bahrain and a cultural achievement which will be remembered by history for your highness.
And although the dissolution of the National Assembly on 26 August 1975 by the Amiri decree No. 14/1975 according to the authority which article 65 offers to your highness, the article itself emphasizes the need to call for the election of the new assembly within a period not exceeding two months from the date of the dissolution. Otherwise the dissolved assembly would retain its complete constitutional authority, that article 108 of the constitution prevents the suspension of any of its articles except in the case of martial laws within the limits outlined by the Law. The dissolution of the Assembly did not take place in these circumstances.
According to this and taking into account the local, regional and international changes during the recent years, and in view of the new direction of the international will to create a new world order, therefore the situation requires – if article 65 is not implemented – the call for electing a new national assembly by direct and free election process as determined by the constitution. This is so that the state may exercise its democratic system according to Article 1.d which states that: “the system in Bahrain is democratic, in which sovereignty is for the people who are the source of all powers, and that the exercise of power must be as outlined by this constitution”.
And in order to institutionalize confidence, and mutual respect between the state and the citizens and due to our keenness on bringing together the efforts of the people of this country, the rulers and the ruled in order to achieve the progress and prosperity of this country, and in order to liberate the energies of every citizen to participate in the process of social and economic development according to article 1.e of the constitution which states that: “the citizens have the right of participation in public affairs and enjoyment of political rights, stating with the right of election, according to this constitution and conditions and circumstances outlined by the Law”. We the undersigned present to your highness this letter motivated by the feeling of our Islamic and national responsibility, and our legitimate rights according to article 29 of the constitution which states that: “every person has the right to communicate with the authorities in writing and with his own signature”, and because your highness is the head of the state according to article 33.a of the constitution, requesting your highness to issue orders for election of the national assembly as outlined by section 2 of chapter 4 of the constitution.
The national assembly as a legislative and constitutional one does not contradict what has recently been mentioned regarding the intention of the government to form a consultative council to widen the sphere of its consultations regarding what the government wants to do. The consultative council does not replace the national assembly as a constitutional and legislative authority.
We hope your highness will realize this popular demand in which there is good for every one. Please accept our thanks and respect……………(Signed by 300 dignitaries).
Who Signed the Petition :
The petition submitted to the Amir on 15 November 1992 was sponsored by six personalities, three Shia and three Sunni:
1- Sheikh Abdul Ameer Al-Jamri, Religious Scholar and Ex-MP
2- Mr. Hamid Sangoor , Lawyer
3- Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain Ali, Educationalist
4- Dr. Abdul Latif Al-Mahmood, University Professor
5- Mr. Mohammed Jaber Al-Sabah,Ex-MP
6- Sheikh Isa Al-Jowder , Religious Scholar
The Petition was signed by 300 people of high social, professional and political status.
A Call for Democracy and National Unity
Twelve Bahraini personalities representing opposition forces issued a statement calling for the restoration of the dissolved parliament. The statement issued on 11 September called for “National unity and Democracy”, saying:
“Our homeland and nation are facing an escalated danger as a result of the continuation of the political and security crises. This danger necessitates from all of us to shoulder our responsibilities for ending the crises. The most dangerous aspects of the problem lies in the threat to the unity of the people as a result of the discrimination policy on sectarian and tribal bases, as well as the increase in the numbers of deaths, injuries, prisoners and forcible-exiles resulting in the deterioration of security and economic conditions. The unity of our nation faces real dangers as a result of the invention of tribal and sectarian alternatives to the criterion of citizenship.Hence, we affirm the necessity to abide by the constitution as a standing pillar for guaranteeing national unity and rights of citizenship on the basis of equality amongst all sections of the society.
There seems to be a determination by the government for not addressing the core issues relating to the restoration of the constitution and popular participation. There also seems to be a determination to impose appointed bodies, such as the Shura Council , as well as imposing other outdated arrangements.The citizens of the country are urged to stick to the national criteria as outlined in the constitutional petition of 1994, which was addressed to the Amir, calling on him to tackle the deteriorating situation since abolishing the constitutional establishment in 1975.
The true exit to the current political crisis can only be through the national and constitutional criteria. We call on all political forces, individuals and establishments of the civil society to abide by theses bases for ending violence and counter violence and for providing an opportunity for a dialogue between the political leadership and representatives of the popular forces for the restoration of constitutional life to the country”.
Singed by: [Ahmad Ibrahim Al Khayyat, Ahmed Ibrahim Al Thawadi, Bader Abdul Malik, Dr. Saeed Al Shehabi, Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Nuaimi, Abdulla Ali Al-Rashid Al Bin-Ali, Abdul Nabi Al Ekri, Dr. Abdul Hadi Khalaf, Sheikh Ali Salman, Mohammed Abdul Jalil Al Murbati, Dr. Mansoor Al Jamri, Dr. Yaquob Yousif Al Janahi].
An Open letter from the people of Bahrain
to the governments and nations of the world
(The following letter has been signed by 10,000 Bahrainis who are living under the most sever crackdown ever carried out by the Bahraini security forces against the peaceful people of Bahrain). The letter reads as follows:
“To the leaders of world’s governments .. to the free nations of the world Greetings.. You may all know, as has been documented by authentic news media, that the people of Bahrain, over the past several years, have submitted petitions, signed by the general public and by the intelligentsia, to the government of Bahrain, calling for the implementation of political and economical reforms compatible with rapidly changing environment. The petitions have called for positive response to satisfy the aspirations of the Bahraini people by allowing a free environment for political participation and socialization.
In 1994, the people of Bahrain initiated a popular petition sponsored by all sections and trends of the society, calling for the reinstatement of constitutional order in the country and re-establishing the grounds for democratic life through the restoration of parliament and allowing participation in the vital political process. However, the government did not agree to meet with the representatives (members of the Committee for Popular Petition) and consistently refused to listen to demands.
During the detention of leading opposition figures (April-September 1995) a semi- agreement was reached with the government regarding the demands and the way to handle them. Later, the government denied the existence of any understanding and denied any form of dialogue with leaders of the opposition. This has led the popular leaders to adopt peaceful and constitutional steps to declare their refusal of the government policy that stands against dialogue. Following this encounter, the people responded with restraint in a highly civilized manner, calling for a serious dialogue between the opposition and the government. Nevertheless, the security apparatus responded by arresting the leading figures (in January 1996) as well as thousands of people, young, old and children. Alongside this, the people of Bahrain have been accused of extremism, violence and linkage with outside parties.
The people of Bahrain refuse all these accusations, and re-confirm the peaceful and constitutional approach for the national struggle and blame the intelligence apparatus of committing part of the arson and violence by attacking places of worship and planting explosives (this has led to uncontrolled and spontaneous reactions against these agitating and organized governmental attacks).
The people of Bahrain assure all governments and nations of the world of their peaceful nature and urge free people of the world to support the constitutional demands. We also urge all to intervene for convincing the government of Bahrain to stop its repressive policy and to accept the path of dialogue with the jailed leaders and to study the democratic and constitutional demands already raised. These demands – if implemented- will save the homeland from reciprocal and vicious violent cycle. We wish all just governments further security and stability and we wish for all nations freedom and dignity”.
((Signed by 10,000 Bahraini citizens))
(The names and signatures are retained with the Arab Organization for Human Rights – UK Branch. 30 March 1996)
WOMEN PETITION SUBMITTED IN APRIL 1995
Your Highness Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa
Amir of the State of Bahrain
Salutations from Bahrain’s women,
Motivated by our well-founded confidence in Your Highness’ kindness and by our strong belief in the importance of communicating our views to You through the democratic dialogue that You have on several occasions emphasized Your adherence to, we have the honour in presenting to Your Highness this statement to express our heightened concerns over the circumstances which our beloved country Bahrain is going through.
We were alarmed as Bahraini citizens by the recent escalation of incidents and the use of the language of violence instead of the language of dialogue to confront the incidents and resolve the conflict so that we were no longer able to ignore what was occurring around us daily especially with our awareness that the continuation of violence would not lead to solving the problem but to exacerbating it. The continuation and spread of violence will touch everyone sooner or later. Experiences of other nations have proved that violence is a vicious circle that generates resentment, deepens hatred and entrenches violence and in the end we will all be losers and our beloved country will be inflicted with wounds that will not heal for a long time.
While we confirm our total belief that sabotage and destruction of public installations is completely unacceptable, we also understand that this could be an expression of the absence of dialogue channels and a reflection of the depth and magnitude of the build-up of suffering and the deterioration in economic and social conditions for a wide segment of the people of Bahrain especially the unemployed amongst them; conditions which need urgent solutions to confront the current developments.
We were also alarmed as citizens and mothers by the practices of the security and anti-riot force towards the citizens who dwell in the villages; practices which ranged from insults and severe beatings of young men, women and children to killing defenceless demonstrators including pupils and university students with bullets.
While we categorically and emphatically reject acts of sabotage, we do not consider them sufficient justification for the use of bullets by the security forces, especially against children and defenceless citizens. We are confident that the esteemed Bahraini Government will not rule out means of dialogue and dealing with demonstrators in order to resort to reasoning with them with bullets especially since the bulk of the acts of sabotage that the demonstrators are accused of committing is not legally punishable by death.
Your Highness, we believe that with your wisdom you are not unaware that progress in dealing with the developments requires breaking the circle of violence and only the stronger party with its wisdom and rationality and not with its weapon is capable of it. We are completely confident in Your abilities in getting our country out of this testing predicament to maintain national unity.
On this basis, we present to Your Highness this statement requesting your Highness’ personal intervention to break the circle of violence and open the door to dialogue to consider with Your established wisdom ways of dealing with the situation which may be achieved through the following means:
1. Ceasing the use of bullets to disperse demonstrators, illegal forced entries and mass arrests;
2. Dealing with detainees according to the rule of law with all that entails of guarantees to the detainees during periods of investigation and trial while expediting the presentation of the defendants to trial , releasing immediately the remaining detainees and repatriating the exiles;
3. Creating employment opportunities for all citizens, securing the minimum requirements for their livelihood and finding an effective solution for the increase in the foreign labour force;
4. Opening the door to a national dialogue with the aim of reaching the appropriate solution;
5. Reactivating the Constitution of the State of Bahrain and calling for elections to the National Assembly and allowing public liberties and freedom of speech;
6. Including Bahraini women in political decision making and utilizing their creative energies in all spheres to serve our country Bahrain.
We are hopeful that Your Highness with Your established paternal spirit and great wisdom are aware of the sensitivity of the situation and capable of taking the right decision which will ensure putting an end to the spilling of blood and rescuing our nation from this dangerous bend in the history of our dear country. Please accept our highest appreciation and respect to Your Kind Highness,
Bahrain’s Citizens and Mothers
Signatures: Aziza Hamad Al-Bassam, Programme Producer, Bahrain Broadcasting; Dr. Khawlah Mohammed Matar, Journalist; Dr. Monira Ahmed Fakhro, University Professor; Ayisha Khalifa Matar, Director, Modern Handicraft Industries; Dr. Fadheela Taher Al-Mahroos, Pediatrician; Jaleela Sayed Ahmed, Lawyer; Wedad Mohammed Al-Masqati, Lawyer; Fawziya Al-Sitri, Employee; Dr. Sabeka Mohammed Al-Najjar, Employee; Sawsen Ibrahim Al- Khayat, Employee; Hussah Al-Khumairi, Director of Continuous Education; Mariyam Abdullah Fakhro, Employee; Khadijah Ali Masoud, Employee; Sheikha Mubarrak Hamad, Employee; Nadia Al-Masqati, Accountant; Farida Ghoulam Ismael, Employee; Koukab Abdullah Abu-Idris, Employee; Radhia Khalil Ibrahim, Teacher; Muna Abbas Mansoor, Employee; Leila Ali, Employee (PLUS THREE HUNDRED OTHER WOMEN).
Note: Three of the leading women above were dismissed from their jobs as a result of submistting the petition: Ms. Aziza Hamad Al-Bassam, Dr. Monira Ahmad Fakhro, and Ms. Hussa Al-Khumairi
National Opposition Declaration
The concept of democratic dialogue and free handling of problems and issues facing the citizen and homeland have always been the pillars for national consensus. The people of Bahrain have declared their commitment to constitutional legitimacy and their great respect for law. Both the petition of 1992 and the popular petition of 1994 have conveyed the sincere wishes of the public for initiating and consolidating the means of democratic dialogue between the government and the people, and the means for returning to legal frameworks that govern this dialogue as specified by the provisions of the constitution.
While we support any initiative towards the conductance of dialogue by peaceful means to exit the crisis and return stability to the country, we believe that the security agreement which took place between the government and some leading opposition personalities represents a positive step in this direction.
In order for this dialogue to succeed we re-confirm the required bases. The dialogue must include all national and democratic activists so that this dialogue is moved away from sectarian nature and in order to assure its national characteristics. The dialogue must also deal with the primary people’s demand of restoring the 1973 constitution. Such dialogue ought to lead to an agreement with a defined programme for the reinstatement of democratic process.
We also consider the releasing of all detainees and the returning of those dismissed from employment to their previous positions are good starting points and would be appreciated by the people. These should be the pre-requisites for democratic openness represented by the return of parliamentary life and the issuance of a general amnesty for all exiles and political prisoners.
We, as patriots and democrats, emphasize that the acceptance (by the government) to receive the popular petition which has been signed by the widest sections of the society and meeting with the delegation representing the popular petition shall have the greatest influence. The latter represents true dialogue leading to the restoration of democracy by the re-activation of 1973 constitution and reinstatement of those suspended articles of the constitution which specify and control the legislative authority and its scope. This is the demand of all the people of Bahrain, with all their tendencies and sections, regardless of their affiliations. This demand will remain to be raised until the achievement of popular participation that represents the principal pillar for national unity and civic stability.”
Signed by 44 Bahraini personalities
96 Kuwait personalities call on the Amir of Bahrain to restore democracy
In an open letter, 96 distinguished Kuwaiti personalities appealed to the Amir of Bahrain to restore democracy to Bahrain. Amongst the signatories were eight members of parliament, the head of the Kuwaiti Human Rights Society, politicians, academics, lawyers, businessmen and pro-democracy activists. The letter to the Amir stated the following:
“HH Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, Amir of Bahrain, Greetings.
It is about one year since the people of Bahrain started their uprising demanding their legitimate and constitutional rights, while the government fails to abide by its promises. There are many Bahrainis in the jails and detentions, there are hundreds of exiles all over the world, and there are many demands, not yet fulfilled, the most important of which are the restoration of constitutional legitimacy and freedom of the people to participate in the political arena through the National Assembly in accordance with the Constitution of the State of Bahrain.
We are keen for the stability of the situation in the Gulf region, particularly in Bahrain, and we appeal to you to fulfill the aspirations of the people of Bahrain by releasing the political prisoners, allowing exiles to return home, and by calling for free legislative election for a new National assembly. In our world of today, violent clashes and encounters are not compatible with respect of human rights and the principles of modern civil societies.
Our appeal emanate from our concern for the stability of the State of Bahrain which would be reflected positively on the future of the country and the region.
Signed by A Group of Kuwaiti Citizens, December 1995″
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