The King’s Constitution is not binding One consequence of the King’s constitution is that decisions for, and actions by the elected national assembly have to be approved by the government. A question may arise as to whether decisions or acts, which have been taken in such a way, can be attributed to a genuine democratic process. According to this constitution, the elected council cannot confer authority on actions or decisions except through the appointed consultative council. Unless the identity of the elected council is distinct from and independent of the appointed one, it will remain a dormant body. The king of Bahrain acted beyon his lawful authority by evading article 104, which does not endorse any amendment to the constitution without the sanction of the freely-elected national assembly. Article 104 not only inhibits potential abuses by the government in using its authority but also affords some protection for the nation. For the last three decades, the government of Bahrain has become notorious for flouting international laws, rules and norms and very bad human rights records. Now the government has implemented new means of circumventing the 1973 constitution with the aid of its foreign and local advisors. This was done through narrowing the scope for the national assembly to act and make decisions without major hindrances. These steps have effectively deprived the people of their right to participate in the political debate and decisions through the elected National Assembly as enshrined in the 1973 Constitution. The king made it possible for himself to alter the constitution without the need to obtain the national assembly’s consent. The King’s constitution legal position became even more confused when it failed to draw a clear distinction between the government and the nation as two separate entities with mutual rights and responsibilities. The people of Bahrain should be afforded the capacity to legislate and monitor the government policies and practices. Unfortunately, this balanced solution was not adopted, notwithstanding the precedents for it in the international jurisdictions. The 1973 constitution is more advanced then the new one, it empowered the elected assembly to legislate and monitor. It confined the power to change the articles of the constitution to the elected assembly in accordance with Article 104. Therefore the any action taken by the government in accordance with the King’s constitution are null and void. Its provisions are in breach of the contractual document of 1973. The people of Bahrain had trusted the king when he declared his programme and endorsed the national charter but he unfortunately did not act in good faith and used his powers to achieve his own political ends. The people of Bahrain are not bound by any legislation resulting from the illegal King’s constitution and any consider them null and void. They will continue their peaceful and civilised opposition to the policies of the government that are not based on the 1973 contractual constitution. Bahrain Freedom Movement
30 October 2002
A successful boycott ends era of deception The government of Bahrain failed to surprise those who had anticipated that the elections would be free and fair. The four political associations who decided to boycott the elections had accused the government of deliberately manipulating the elections so as to inflate the number of turnout. A press release issued last night by the opposition societies stated: “We have detailed figures from our monitoring committees which suggest that the actual turnout is below 40%. Also many white papers were used by the voters who feared retribution from the government if they did not have their passports stamped”. Reacting to the outcome of Thursday’s elections, the press release stated ” the government of Bahrain put pressure on the people to make them vote. Firstly the government required from every voter to present his/her passport in order to be stamped before voting. Also voters were given congratulatory certificates for participating. Furthermore, the government forced the military establishment to vote, and continuous mobile messages on the day of the elections were sent to the citizens calling them for voting. Many voters were felt threatened and went to the polling stations and inserted white papers in order to get their passport stamped.” Certainly the government of Bahrain has done everything in its power to ensure that more people would take part.. Thousands of police officers and soldiers were forced to vote. Many additional polling stations were opened. Measures were taken by the information ministry before the elections to ban dissenting voices in the government media especially those calling for a boycott. More than forty web sites were closed because they were calling for a boycott, such as “Bilad Al-Qadeem, Duraz, and Quran.net”. These measures seriously discredit the transparency, fairness and independence of the election process. Some political analysts blamed Thursday’s low turnout on voter disillusionment and apathy. The government of Bahrain must hink about the reasons people chose to abstain from voting. The failure of these theatrical elections will have negative consequences for the country’s image in the world. The government of Bahrain has failed to keep its promises. Article 104 of the 1973 Constitution was overridden and an illegal constitution was imposed on the people paving the way for more legalized autocracy. It is clear that the government is exploiting these elections to win the international community approval and earn a quick return on its propaganda investment. The way the government took advantage of these elections was evidently exposed by the people of Bahrain by abstaining from voting. The people of Bahrain are calling the international community to investigate the methods used by the government of Bahrain in order to influence the size of the turnout. An inquiry must be held to investigate into the whole affair that has taken the country back to pre-1994 when the popular uprising erupted. The opposition is now contemplating a civil resistance agenda to counter the King’s constitution and force the authorities to abandon their methods of deception and dictatorship. Democracy will only have a chance only when the constitutional rights of the people enshrined by the contractual constitution of 1973 are respected. Bahrain Freedom Movement
25 October 2002
AP — Tens of Thousands Rallied for Boycott . Shiites rally for election boycott on eve of Bahrain’s landmark election Wed Oct 23, 5:06 PM ET By ADNAN MALIK, Associated Press Writer MANAMA, Bahrain – Tens of thousands of people attended a rally in support of a boycott of the first parliamentary elections in nearly 30 years in this Persian Gulf nation. Four political parties are calling for the boycott of Thursday’s elections to express opposition to recently adopted changes to the constitution . “We do not want to be a witness to a defective birth of the parliament,” Sheik Ali Salman, head of one party, the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, said at the rally late Tuesday. An estimated 30,000 people attended the rally, mostly Shiite Muslims, who hold a slim majority in Bahrain – a nation of some 400,000 people. The royal family, who are Sunni Muslims, urged people to ignore the boycott. “Those who are boycotting the elections are preventing their voices and opinion from being heard,” Crown Prince Sheik Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa told reporters. Bahrain’s last legislative elections were held in 1973. Two years later, parliament was dissolved. King Hamad has steered the country toward democratic rule since he succeeded his late father in 1999. Among the Gulf nations, only Kuwait holds legislative elections. But the leader of Al-Wefaq and others say they do not want to endorse what they see as a flawed political system. Their concerns about the constitution center on recently adopted amendments under which a council appointed by the king will have as much power as the elected legislature. “We want to continue our march for political reforms and we will fight for our rights, but we have to do it peacefully,” Ali Salman told the crowd. It was unknown how many would heed the boycott. “I am definitely boycotting,” said Jalal Mohammed Ahmed, a 25-year-old Shiite. “We have been robbed of our rights and as long as we don’t get them, we will stay away.” But others, including Shiites, said they planned to participate in the historic elections. “I want to be a part of my country’s democratic march. It’s my democratic right,” said Lamees al-Jamea, 22, a Shiite woman who works for a public relations firm.
Bahrainis living abroad began casting their votes Monday at some 23 embassies and consulates around the world.
COMITE POUR LA DEFENSE DES DROITS DE L’HOMME ET LA DEMOCRATIE DANS LA PENINSULE ARABIQUE 21TER RUE VOLTAIRE 75011 PARIS TEL : (33) 01 45 88 03 03 FAX : (33) 01 45 88 90 50 A delegation of our Committe (Bernard DREANO VP, Marc PELLAS Secretary, Jean SYLVESTRE Secretary) has been received yesterday by the Bahraini Ambassador in Paris to whom we have expressed our concern for : – the process and nature of the recent constitutional changes in Bahrain – the impact of these change and of the electoral partition on theongoing electoral process – the overall impact of the above on the nature of the political system which has brought very valuable human rights relief but which appears unable to confirm the democratic pledge that was formulated on the occasion of the adoption of the National Charter. We underlined that, as long time observers of the situation in the area, we see the Bahraini people as particularly responsible, mature, far-seeing, which suggest that the quasi-unanimity that was reached then (with the referendum) was something like a national treasure, or asset, on which it looks opportune to build.
We announced our backing and action for contributing to the constitution of an high-level, independant, international Committee of constitutional lawyers which is to evaluate the nature and process of the recent changes and to formulate concrete suggestions to come out of the present divisive cul de sac.
The UK Bar Human Rights Committee issued the following statement on the situation in Bahrain: The Bar Human Rights Committee has followed the political developments in Bahrain over the past few years. Of particular concern to it has been the new constitution presented by the King to the people last February. While welcoming the positive changes in Bahrain, such as the release of political prisoners, the repeal of the State Security Law and the State Security Court and allowing the return of the exiles, the BHRC views with concern the constitutional changes which have been introduced without the people’s consent. The BHRC has received and considered the Legal Opinion on the comparative merits of the 1973 Bahrain Constitution, the National Action Charter, and 2002 Bahrain Constitution, prepared by qualified lawyers. The Committee regards this Opinion as being a most significant and valuable contribution to the promotion and protection of the rule of law and democracy within Bahrain. The Opinion is an indispensable guide for anyone seeking to understand the full implications and significance of the Constitutional changes. We hope that the King will give a due attention to the legal concerns to these changes and agree to the reinstatement of the 1973 Constitution. The UK Bar Human Rights Committee
23rd Of October 2002
Reasons for Not Participating in the Coming Parliamentary Elections in Bahrain* 1. The Constitution of 1973 was a contractual constitution and its mechanism for amendment was clear. In addition, the elected representatives of people could participate in amending the Constitution. Hence, the new 2002 Constitution has violated the above mechanism. 2. The changes in the 1973 Constitution were introduced with no consideration to what was agreed upon in the National Action Charter, which are obviously against the spirit of the 1973 Constitution. 3. The Constitution was changed from being a social contract between the ruler and the people to a constitution given as a “privilege” to people by the ruler. 4. In the new ‘bicameral’ system, both chambers have the same legislative power, with equal number of members (40 appointed, and 40 elected). 5. In the new 2002 Constitution, there is no ‘Separation of Powers’ between the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary Powers. 6. There is a clear domination of the Executive Power over the Legislative Power through the appointed members in the Consultative Chamber. Consequently, the key principle of the Constitution, “the people are the source of all powers”, is violated. 7. The elected chamber lacks the legislative power and control that were instated in the 1973 Constitution. 8. The new 2002 Constitution has limited the effectiveness of the elected chamber from monitoring the public expenditures by removing the article that states that the Financial Control Office should be under the umbrella of the elected chamber. 9. The new elected chamber does not have the power to hold any official responsible of what they have committed before the start of the date of the new parliament. 10. We consider the new parliament as a modified version of the previous Consultative Council. The difference is that only one half is elected and the other half is appointed. 11. There is a drawback from the Minister of Justice’s assurances that he declared on the 9th February 2001 about the role and power of each chamber. 12. The new 2002 Constitution cannot be amended without the two-third of the two chambers (the elected and the appointed one).
* This excerpt is extracted from the published Arabic brochure “Towards the Enhancement of Reforms..” of the four boycotting societies which are: Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, The Democratic National Action Society, The Islamic Action Society, and The Democratic National Coalition Society — Kingdom of Bahrain: October 2002.
Bahrain: Courageous acts needed to salvage the country A deeper pattern of resistance to the meaningless elections has emerged in the past few days.. The government propaganda inducing the people of Bahrain to vote is losing popular support, not just in the rural areas but in the capital Manama as well. Banners were recently in the Capital Manama calling for boycotting the elections. Similar banners were raised in Sanabis, Sitra, Nuaim and Duraz calling for boycotting the elections. However, the security forces were deployed to remove them. On another front, a website for the pro-boycott groups has been banned by Bahrain Telecom (Batelco), the only telecommunication company in the country. A political forum at Bahrain Club to discuss political development was banned last week. This government behavior has serious implications not only for the meaningless election, but the whole reform programme initiated by the King. There is a widespread apathy in the country to the reform program. The people of Bahrain are disillusioned with the persisting poverty, discrimination and burdens imposed by the government under the pretext of reform. Bahrain is facing a forth decade of agony. The people are annoyed by the continuation of the old policies in discrimination corruption and absence of the rule of law. The other difficulty issue is the constitutional reform, under which the new National Assembly is being transformed into an enlarged consultative council with no real legislative or monitoring powers. Political Observers argue that this new constitutional transformation will pave the way for more government control and regularized dictatorship. The opposition agrees that a political reform is necessary but the government is exploiting the so-called reform program for its own political ends. The government is clearly keen to hold the elections on 24 of October and is working hard to inflate the percentage of the turn out. It has now allowed military and interior establishments to participate in the elections. While it has made a condition to present the passport for stamping before voting, it is allowing those who do not posses a passport or ID to obtain a voting card which will make them eligible to vote. These cards can be issued to many foreign workers purposely to increase the turnout. There are some bright spots on releasing all political prisoners, allowing opposition figures in exile to comeback and cancellation of state security law. Since the King declared his program and up to 14 February 2002, there was a wave of personal support, enthusiasm and high expectations. However on 14 February 2002 this support was transformed into political sorrow, which led to the erosion of faith in the King’s political programme. To ensure that his program has a chance, the King has to abolish the 2002 constitution, restore the 1973 constitution, end the arbitrary way of decision-making and establish the rule of law. Those political associations who decided to boycott the elections must be given the freedom to voice their opinions in the government press. The people will continue to resist the imposition of the constitutional dictatorship. Bahrain Freedom Movement
19 October 2002
The government’s reaction to the boycott initiative The boycott decision by the four main political groups in Bahrain is taking its toll on the government. While some observers consider it a reaction, many others view it as a courageous initiative aimed it disciplining the reforms programme. There is a general and significant loss of interest in the elections campaigns, where campaigners’ tents and reception halls remain deserted in most parts of the country days before the elections. Many observers estimated the percentage of participation in the elections to be less than 30%. This would indicate a total failure of the reforms programme and the transformation to democracy. Fearing the loss of control of the general trends amongst the people in favour of the boycott decision, the government has reacted with a series of actions that expose its despair. The media in all its forms continuously show programmes that call on the people to participate, and ignore the opposition views in the hope of reversing public opinion. It has also embarked on a campaign of declaring major infrastructure projects in key areas. The projects declared, e.g. the northern city, are at conceptual design stage and cannot represent an immediate response to the desperate and aging needs of the people concerned. Local political observers have criticised the timing as they came less than three weeks before the elections. The king’s wife has started a nationwide campaign calling upon women to participate in elections. Her visits to many social and religious centres around the country are thought to be aimed at rallying more support for the reforms programme. Many women who listened to her talks however insist that her campaign was politically motivated and that she failed to address the women’s concerns and issues or indeed convince the majority of the viability of voting. In addition to the above measures, the government is asking the people to present their passports to for stamping as a proof of voting during the elections, a move considered by the local opposition figures and groups as intimidating and intended to terrorise the people and force them into voting. There is a total ban on the anti-elections figures in the media. Many political groups are having to hold seminars and issue pamphlets to express their views. This is a demonstration of the absence of the democratic spirit that reinforces the view that the reforms programme has failed to recognise critical issues and fundamentals of a democratic society. It is an unfortunate end to the reform programme once hailed as the beacon of democracy not just in the Gulf, but in the Arab world. Bahrain Freedom Movement
18 October 2002
Bahrain: a return to the politics of gagging Bahrain could face a period of uncertainty if the government continued to deny the people their constitutional rights in legislation and monitoring role as stipulated in 1973 constitution. This may set the process of the so-called reforms back, possibly by years. The government of Bahrain needed to learn the lessons of the past. It had to recognize that Bahrain society had changed since the beginning of the 1994 uprising. Prior to 14 February 2002, the King had a historic opportunity to share his reform program with the opposition. However, he had chosen to rely on his foreign and local advisors to formulate the new relationship policy between the government and the nation. He also mistakenly thought that by making the consultative council a legislative body, it would guarantee a governmental control of the political agenda. He failed to recognize that this new framework would not meet the people’s demands. It has deepened the people’s frustrations and tension as they felt undermined and swindled. The people of Bahrain wanted a strong parliament with a power to legislate and challenge the government on controversial issues. With the new illegitimate constitution, passing a new law without the approval of the government will be impossible. The people of Bahrain see the 2002 illegal constitution as an attempt to shift control from the national assembly to the government. They do not see a case for an appointed consultative council, which has equal legislation rights to those granted to the national assembly. It is less than two years since the King of Bahrain had declared his reforms programme. However, this programme does not go far enough to put an end to the endemic corruption and discrimination exercised by the old guards, particularly those at the highest level of government. So far, the old guards have a stranglehold on freedom of expression. Last week a political forum at Bahrain Club in Muharraq to discuss the political development was banned. Government officials declined to comment on the reason behind the ban. Articles by known writers discussing the situation were either banned or severely distorted. The reform programme has also failed to shift control of the media from the old guards. The state-controlled media is used as a flagship for justifying and praising government actions and royal decrees. The very nature of the media role in Bahrain is still in question. Top executives in the media who have been part of the old guards team in attacking democracy and the democratic movement in the country have remained in their positions. They have executed the orders of the political leadership without hesitation. The media has recently resorted to the same old tone in praising the government, attacking those who decided to boycott the meaningless elections and ignoring the constitutional crisis, which is the centre of the local events. They find it hard to adjust their focus and style to the imperatives required by globalization and international developments.. Hot topics such as the constitutional crisis caused by the king breaking his promises was not even mentioned in the press. Those who decided to boycott the elections are denied access to the local media, while this media imposes a blackout on their activities. The people of Bahrain are adversely affected by the constitutional crisis in the country. They demand a speedy resolution if a return to the old-style politics is to be avoided. Genuine democracy emerges when people are given the right of political participation in accordance to the rule of constitutional law. The absence of the rule of law in Bahrain lies at the heart of the current crisis. Bahrain Freedom Movement
15 October 2002
Boycotting the elections to protest illegal constitution The government of Bahrain has violated its constitutional rights by overriding Article 104 and making significant changes to the Constitution without taking the public opinion into account. The elected parliament is no longer the only legislative body in the country as in the 1973 constitution. Its members will now be government employees. Furthermore, it cannot function as a monitoring body on the government, because, according to the new illegal constitution they will be reporting directly to the King on the investigative and auditing matters instead of reporting to the elected Parliament as was in the 1973 constitution. The personal decision by the King to change the Constitution was based on unpublished details and principles, rather than on the law. These changes are an infringement of the 1973 Constitution. With these significant and illegal changes, the government of Bahrain has demonstrated that the its main objective was to diminish the constitutional powers of the people in accordance with the 1973 constitution. So far, the government officials have failed to provide an adequate explanation for the reasons behind these changes. The opposition decided that the only way to solve this constitutional crisis was to boycott the illegal elections to be held on 24 October 2002. All Bahrainis should be brought together to stand for their constitutional rights and the public must be educated for the dangerous consequences of entering these cosmetic catastrophic elections. The government of Bahrain must understand that its policy of denying the people who have decided to boycott, access to the state-controlled media will not work. It is a disgrace for a state claiming to possess a democratic system to take sides in its state controlled media. The process of boycotting the meaningless elections is already gathering momentum. Many areas in Bahrain are showing no interest in contesting the elections. When the Crown Prince visited the Northern Distinct last week, he was received by protesters against the elections for the unlawful assembly. In other areas, like Sanabis and Sitra, banners were raised against participation in these elections. However, most political observers believe that the government of Bahrain will hold the elections despite the people’s frustrations. The government has, hitherto, failed to take serious corrective measures. The recent developments have shown that the people of Bahrain have many grievances which were not seriously addressed by the government. The discriminatory practices have increased on alarming rates. Many staff in Batelco (the only Telecommunication Company in the country) are denied promotions despite their rich experiences and superb educational backgrounds. Recruitment at the Bahrain Monetary Agency (Central Bank) is restricted to certain families (Pro-Alkhalifa). The political background and connections with the royal family is a key factor in appointments to senior management posts in the banking industry. The people’s demands are clear. They want to see a political process based on the principles of democracy and justice. The government must restore the confidence of the people which has been lost since 14 February 2002 by reinstating the 1973 constitution. Serious measures should be formulated to combat corruption, discrimination and white crimes. Bahrain Freedom Movement
9 October 2002
VOA News Four Bahraini Groups To Boycott Elections 3 Sep 2002 17:32 UTC Bahrain’s main four political groupings say they will boycott the parliamentary elections scheduled for October 24th – the first such elections in 28 years. The groups say they are protesting changes to the constitution giving a council appointed by Bahrain’s king a role equal to that of parliament. A spokesman says the groups are prepared to reconsider the boycott plan if their demands are met. The four groups did reaffirm their support for the reform process launched by Bahrain’s King Hamad in 1999 and said they are committed to settling political differences by peaceful means. Leading the election boycott is the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society. It is the main political formation of Bahrain’s Shi’ite Muslim population, which was in the forefront of violent protests against Bahrain’s ruling Sunni minority from 1994 to 1999. Reinstatement of parliament, dissolved in 1975, was a main demand during the unrest. Joining the election boycott is another Shi’ite grouping, the Islamic Action Society, the leftist National Democratic Action Society, and a pan-Arab nationalist group – the National Democratic Rally. The groupings have criticized a constitutional amendment that gives a consultative (or shura) council, to be appointed by King Hamad, legislative powers alongside those of the 40-seat house to be elected next month. They say the change breaches commitments made in a national charter that was approved overwhelmingly in a referendum in 2001. Bahrain held municipal elections in May in the first test of democratic reforms designed to transform the island from a traditional emirate into a constitutional monarchy.
Like the other Gulf Arab monarchies, Bahrain prohibits formal political parties, but in the past year it has sanctioned associations representing various political leanings in the country. However, these associations are barred from running or backing candidates in the upcoming elections.
BBC Tuesday, 3 September, 2002, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK Bahrain groups plan election boycott Four of the main political groupings in Bahrain have threatened to boycott parliamentary elections in October unless their demands for further political reform are met. They include the influential Al Wefaq National Islamic Society which has strong support from the country’s Shia Muslim majority. The other groups are the National Democratic Society, the National Democratic Action Association and the Islamic Action Society. The elections will be the first representative ones in Bahrain for more than 25 years. However, the country’s monarch, Sheikh Hamad – who’s been responsible for introducing democratic changes – has decided to create also a non-elected Shura council which will have similar powers to those of parliament.
The objectors say this is the main reason for their proposed boycott, although they stress that they still support the King and wish to settle the dispute by peaceful means.
The October Elections, Views and Attitude The political situation in Bahrain has progressed, in the previous months, to secure a three fold objective. A stronger grip over power by the government, a greater isolation and crippling of political groups and a marginal role for the people of Bahrain in the October elections. The government has openly and unilaterally taken actions and enacted laws to realise this fact prior to the elections, thus demonstrating its mistrust in its own population and perpetuating the policies of absolute power and repressive measures. Soon after the short-lived political stability that prevailed in the country after the national action charter, and contrary to its promises and agreements with its own people, the government embarked on an orchestrated programme of overwhelming decrees and laws that were to shape the political practices by political groups and the balance of power in the so-called democracy. The people of Bahrain have struggled for the restoration of the 1973 constitution as it is the only binding document between the government and the people. It is also the framework within which the people can enjoy their minimum political and civil rights. The aforesaid unilateral actions targeted these rights bringing them to the minimum, thus rendering the democracy under the new changes a defunct one. The past months have witnessed a series of actions and statements by government officials that constitute an unreasonable limitation on freedom of expression. This was manifested in a comprehensive campaign of suppressing opinions and depriving them access to the press unless they are in total conformity with government views. The government’s determination to censor on-line content has continued unabated. The statements went further to prohibit political groups from promoting their own candidates for elections, holding public meetings in favour of candidates and lately prohibiting them from interfering in political debate on the grounds that the law prohibits such groups form do so. The government has continued its programme of changing the social structure of the country by granting citizenship rights to millions while depriving thousands of having it, despite fulfilling all the legal requirements. This was combined with relentless efforts in employing foreigners to create a workforce largely composed of non-Bahrainis to ensure total control of markets and consolidating the presence of poor communities, mainly composed of citizens, in a wealthy country. The recruitment and promotion schemes in most of the government ministries and academic institutions have been based on sectarian considerations. In light of the above, the Bahrain Freedom Movement believes that the democracy that will prevail after the October elections will bring further corruption to the country due to the inability of the elected members of effecting any change or positively influencing any decision. It will also consolidate the one party rule phenomena that has crippled the country for decades and against which the people of Bahrain have given great sacrifices. Further, it will reinforce all the powers in the hands of the government and eliminates the opportunities of separation of powers. These negative developments have characterised the so-called ‘transition to democracy’ indicating that an authoritarian tendency has prevailed in the policies of the government towards the people. The Bahrain Freedom Movement therefore believes that the right response is to boycott these ill-fated elections and calls upon the people of Bahrain to continue their peaceful struggle to restore the 1973 constitution and bring stability, civil and political rights, justice and freedom of expression to the country. Bahrain Freedom Movement
3rd of September 2002
Courier Mail SAT 31 AUG 2002, Page 032 Truth on the rack By: Chris Griffith Former Bahraini intelligence deputy chief Adel Felaifel, now living in Australia, is fighting claims he is a torturer, reports Chris Griffith WHEN Adel Felaifel fled Bahrain bound for Brisbane, it was not only local authorities who felt jilted. According to a report by Bahraini bank TAIB, his disappearance with 24 million Bahraini dinar ($115 million) in loans drove the Bahraini stock exchange down 1823.92 points, or 0.6 per cent, in a week. What was Bahrain’s loss, however, became Queensland’s gain, with Felaifel, the former deputy head of Bahraini intelligence, paying up to $100 million for four inner-city Brisbane buildings and coastal Queensland development sites. The former Colonel Felaifel, 42, is wanted at home for unlawfully obtaining a document by force, unlawfully obtaining property by fraudulent means and issuing cheques without sufficient funds. From his office at 100 Eagle St, Brisbane, the former FAI Insurance building, he denies he personally tortured political detainees. He also denies he oversaw the kidnapping, incarceration and punishment of teenagers and children, many of whom were arrested to force their parents to hand themselves over. Felaifel paints an honourable picture of himself as head of the Shi’a section of Bahrain’s Security Intelligence Service. His 21 years with the SIS was his life-time work. “My role as the head of the SIS Shi’a section meant I was the person directly responsible for the identification, questioning and detention of many members of the Islamic Shi’a movement,” he said in a recent court affidavit. “I was also, by 2000, the most senior person in Bahrain, excluding members of the royal family, who has such a responsibility.” But Felaifel fell from grace when Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the new amir, freed the political detainees, invited exiles back to Bahrain and abolishing Felaifel’s SIS, which by then was devoid of customers. Felaifel says that as deputy intelligence chief he was the frontline trooper in a world-important struggle to ensure his tiny nation did not fall into the hands of Shi’a Muslims intent, he said, on a fundamentalist Islamic government ruled from Iran. The Shi’as comprise 70 per cent of Bahrain’s population of 645,000. He says de facto rule in Bahrain from Iran would bring with it the closure of strategically crucial Persian Gulf US military bases. He extols with passion his mission, which was to shield Bahrainis from “terrorism” and murder committed by Shi’ites. “But there is no torture, nobody gets killed under torture and I will challenge this,” he says. “I have a medal from America (the CIA). They gave it to me last year. They appreciate my services for being anti-terrorism because those Shi’ite people are anti-American.” He defends with equal vigour his immediate superior, Scottish-born former Bahraini security chief Major-General Ian Henderson. Henderson was the subject of a two-year Scotland Yard investigation also involving torture allegations. Far from torturing Shi’ites, Henderson, he says, installed airconditioning in their cells, ensured they had medical checks every two days, and that they ate “the best food”. Felaifel says the allegations faced by Henderson did not stick, and the retired major-general comes and goes from the UK as he wishes. UK legal sources, however, say the fight to bring the now elderly Henderson to justice is not over, and the same applies to Felaifel. The biggest challenge to Felaifel’s human rights records emanates from Eric Avebury, a 73-year-old member of the House of Lords who in 1997 sought to have Felaifel banned from entering the UK. Avebury paints a radically different picture of Bahraini affairs. He says that after gaining independence from Britain in 1971, Bahrain developed as a constitutional monarchy until 1973, when it adopted a national assembly of 30 members and 15 nominated government ministers. But this experiment in democracy lasted just 18 months. The amir dissolved parliament in 1975 after it failed to pass a security bill giving authorities power to detain anyone for up to three years. Bahrain had been ruled by decree from then on. Avebury paints Henderson and Felaifel as the arch-enforcers of this repressive regime, and says there is ample evidence to bring Felaifel to trial in Australia for crimes of torture in Bahrain. “I think, on the Nuremberg principle, he could be held accountable for all of it because he was effectively the chief of the day-to-day operations and these things couldn’t have happened without his knowledge and approval,” he says. “We (also) can say with absolute confidence that there are people living in the United Kingdom who claim to have been tortured personally by Felaifel, and I have met some of them. Some made statements for the purposes of gaining asylum in the UK which included incidence of torture by Felaifel.” The Australian Government, while not admitting an interest in Felaifel, has confirmed the Crimes (Torture) Act 1988 does give it jurisdiction to try non-Australians here for acts of torture committed overseas. Felaifel’s problems are compounded by these alleged torture claims being widely documented in international human rights reports. They are: a 1997 report by Human Rights Watch; a 1998 Voice of Bahrain report detailing the treatment of female detainees; a 1999 World Organisation Against Torture bulletin; a Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Bahrain report in 2000; and a United Nations Economic and Social Council bulletin in 1998. The Courier-Mail has spoken to two London-based Bahrainis who claim to have been tortured by Felaifel, and has received correspondence from a third and written accounts from others. The human rights reports also paint a chilling picture of torture in Bahrain generally. Allegedly common methods included beating and boxing victims on the head, sex organs and belly, beatings with electrified whips, suspension upside-down and immersion in dirty water or urine up to the point of suffocation, electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body, forcing shackled victims to stand for days without sleep or toilet use, forced nakedness and threat of rape to males and females, solitary confinement for months, and beatings while suspended upside-down. Young women, many of them protesting high school students, reportedly were incarcerated, stripped, threatened with rape and detained for up to one month before being released on a payment of $US850. Children aged 13 to 15 arrested in house raids reportedly were interrogated with torture including beatings on the soles of the feet which crippled them for days. A report to the UN Economic and Social Council in January 1998 recounted innumerable deaths in custody at Al Qala prison, a complex that also housed the Ministry of Interior and the SIS. “Some detainees died in custody because of torture, appalling prison conditions or denial of medical treatment; some are released just before they die, a tactic used to avoid scandal,” the report said. In one case, Said Abd al-Rasul al-Iskafi, 16, died in custody in 1995 after being arrested on suspicion of having sprayed anti-government graffiti. Felaifel is the subject of many anecdotes of torture, including of women. One published by the Bahrain Freedom Movement in 1998 alleged he personally supervised the torture of Bahraini woman Salwa Hasan Haider, 30, who was tied up and suspended by her hands and legs then flogged and beaten. ANOTHER told to The Courier-Mail last week involved Afaf Al Jamri, 31, whom Felaifel allegedly brought to his quarters and threatened with rape in front of her already incarcerated father, Sheikh Abdul Ameer Al Jamri, a high court judge and member of the defunct parliamentary congress. Al Jamri had been jailed without trial since 1996. Felaifel says all the reports were concocted by the Bahraini opposition, particularly its members in London who over 20 years had infiltrated all the major human rights groups and had sought out sympathisers like Avebury. “But this Lord Avebury does not represent the British Government, he is representing himse
lf,” Felaifel says. “The British Government is 100 per cent behind the Bahraini Government, and so are the Americans and they are anti-terrorist. The Shi’as are terrorists.” While the debate on Felaifel’s human rights record rages, he faces a more urgent problem of civil court action in Brisbane. Omar Ali Babtain, president and chief executive officer of the United Medical Group, which equips and manages hospitals, and Khalid Bin Nasser Bin Abdulla Al Misnad, president of the Misnad Group and brother-in-law of the amir of Qatar, have lodged a statement of claim in the Supreme Court in Queensland saying the funds Felaifel used to buy his Queensland properties were theirs. The civil court action has led to Felaifel facing Mareva court injunctions which freeze his assets worldwide and prevent him leaving Australia until he details these assets to the court. ALLEGED VICTIMS TELL THEIR TALES JAFFAR AL HESABI I WAS ordered to go to the Security and Intelligence Services at Al Qala prison at Manama. Adel Felaifel came in. He told me that if I did not tell the truth he would put me in a big water tank with weights on my feet and no one would know I was there. Felaifel came and went while the others beat me. Felaifel also personally took part in beating me. About 9pm, Felaifel told the others to take me away. I was very afraid because I did not know where they would take me. I had heard lots of cries and screams and knew that others had been tortured and even killed here. I knew that one 16-year-old, Saied Il Iskaafi, had died under torture. They took me downstairs to the big hall where there were more than 20 other detainees, all standing facing the wall. I was ordered to do the same. About 8pm the next day, two officers came and took me up to the second floor, to Felaifel’s office. They handcuffed me with my hands in front of my body, and then made me crouch down and put a long, heavy stick behind my knees. Then they lifted the stick and placed it between a table and a chair, leaving my body suspended in a very painful position, with my feet uppermost and my body hanging down. This is known as the falqa position. When I was in this position they beat me on my feet with a black plastic hose. I stayed in this position for about 20 minutes, shouting and screaming from the pain. SAEED HASSAN I WAS brought to Adel Felaifel in his office and forced to stand in front of him. Four guards circled me. He said `write what we dictate to you. If you refuse, you will be tortured’. I refused. Felaifel gave his four torturers a signal to beat me. In a minute, I was beaten from almost everywhere — my head, back, legs and belly. Later, his torturers put my hands behind my back and tied them up with handcuffs. My eyes also were closed with a black strip. I was taken later to a room facing a wall. I was left there for six days. I was not allowed to go to the toilet and not allowed to sit. I was standing 24 hours. If my body touched the wall, the torturers beat me heavily. I also was not allowed to pray. They opened my eyes only for meals. After six days without sleeping, I was stinking and completely exhausted. They came early morning and took me to Felaifel’s room. After I refused to confess, Felaifel spoke to his torturers and, within minutes, a piece of wood was put below my legs and I was hung like a chicken being fried. My socks were taken off and put inside my mouth. The torturers started beating me for about 15 minutes. Later, I was taken down and circled by four torturers who took down my trousers and forced me to sit on a bottle. I was left in the room bleeding from my hip. HUSSAIN RAMADHAN MOHAMED SHABAN IT WAS for only two days, but it seemed to be going on for a year. On May 4, 1997, I got a call about 8pm on my mobile from my mother telling me to come home. I got home and my mother was crying. She said `Al-Mokabarat came to arrest you and you were not here so they took your father instead’. They returned about 1.30am. They took me out of the house, blindfolded and handcuffed me. I entered another world. They took me to the Mokabarat Building. I said `Where is my father?’ so someone slapped me across the back of my head. Later, they took the blindfold off and I was facing Adel Felaifel. Black plastic pipes were their main tool. They used them to beat me — all over my body and especially the head. Adel Felaifel left the room and told me that he would return if I said where I was hiding the bombs. As he left the room, they forced me to take off my clothes, and they left me only in my underwear. They said they would rape me one by one. To avoid this, I had to talk. They kept me naked and started to touch me. I said I would confess. After I put my clothes back on, Adel came back. I said `I have done nothing, but if you want me to say things, I will’. Later, all of the guys started to beat me. I woke up in a dark room. I was not able to move my body. I was having difficulty breathing.
They took me in a car to the hospital at Al Qala. The nurse cleaned up my body. The blood was everywhere but I was not able to open my eyes.”
Fugitive in fight for visa Chris Griffith, legal affairs reporter 31aug02 AUSTRALIAN immigration officials will decide whether Bahrain’s former deputy head of intelligence can remain in the country. Advertisement Adel Jasim Felaifel spent up to $100 million buying buildings in the Brisbane CBD and coastal development projects before fleeing from Bahrain in May. He now lives in Brisbane and works from an office where he is planning developments through one of his companies, Falcon Projects. Mr Felaifel faces a Queensland civil case over the origin of his investments funds and, separately, claims of torture from his time in charge of detaining and interrogating Shi’ite muslims for the Bahraini Security and Intelligence Services (SIS). Mr Felaifel denies the torture claims and any financial impropriety. The Brisbane Supreme Court yesterday was told Mr Felaifel’s multiple-entry visa had expired and there was concern about him having conducted profit-making activities on his past tourist visa. His counsel, Ken Bick, QC, successfully sought a court order allowing Mr Felaifel to sell one of his frozen assets: 371 Queen Street, for which he paid $2.8 million cash. The hearing was preliminary to a civil trial launched by Omar Ali Babtain, president of the United Medical Group, and Khalid Bin Nasser Bin Abdulla Al Misnad, brother-in-law of the amir of Qatar, who claim the money Mr Felaifel spent on Queensland properties was theirs. Mr Bick said Mr Felaifel had found another buyer for 371 Queen Street who had conducted due diligence checks before agreeing to the sale. The asking price was at the lower end of acceptable market value. He said the property needed renovation. Mr Bick rejected a claim by counsel for Babtain and Al Misnad, Tony Morris, QC, who said Mr Felaifel’s tourist visa precluded him from profit-making activity while in Australia. Mr Felaifel last night said he had applied for a business skills visa. In the meantime, he had been granted an interim “bridging A visa” while the application was being considered. He said he had not conducted “profit-making” activities in Australia, rather he had worked as a director of companies to increase the value of shares. He had not drawn a salary from these companies. In London yesterday, Lord Eric Avebury, a British House of Lords MP, said he had spoken with the Australian High Commission police liaison officer to put his case that Mr Felaifel should be tried for torture here. Mr Felaifel’s assets have been frozen internationally and he is not allowed to leave Australia. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said the Government would not comment on Mr Felaifel’s visa application while it was being considered.
Mr Felaifel faces separate civil proceedings in Bahrain brought by Mr Al Misnad, and Mr Felaifel has issued court proceedings in Bahrain against Mr Babtain for allegedly issuing bad cheques.
ADEL Jasim Felaifel … named in several international reports as having tortured detainees, but denies any act of torture. Investor tortured people, says lord Chris Griffith legal affairs reporter 27aug02 A MEMBER of the House of Lords in Britain will urge Australian authorities to charge with torture a Bahrainian investor living in Queensland. Bahrain’s former deputy head of intelligence, Adel Jasim Felaifel, has vehemently denied to The Courier-Mail that he committed any act of torture while he worked for Bahrain’s Security Intelligence Service (SIS) from 1979-2000. However Lord Eric Avebury, the vice-chairman of Britain’s Parliamentary Human Rights Group and previously its chairman for 21 years, said he would urge Australia to try the former colonel under law reflecting its international treaty obligations. A spokeswoman for Federal Attorney-General Daryl Williams yesterday confirmed Australian authorities had the jurisdiction to pursue non-Australians for torture under the Crimes (Torture) Act 1988, implemented to give effect to some of the treaty obligations. The Courier-Mail has reported that Mr Felaifel spent more than $50 million buying four Brisbane city buildings and coastal Queensland development sites before he fled Bahrain, where he is wanted for fraud, embezzlement, and issuing bad cheques. Lord Avebury said he began amassing information about Mr Felaifel in the mid-1990s while gathering evidence about his immediate superior, Scots-born Major-General Ian Henderson, who headed Bahrain’s state security for 30 years. It is estimated Bahraini security forces had 1500 political prisoners in 1997. Mr Felaifel last night said that Lord Avebury was the captive of Bahraini opposition groups in London and unrepresentative of the British Government. “What about the other lords? What do they say about it? Give me another lord, give me another Member of Parliament. Give me any member of the British Government who says Adel Felaifel or Ian Henderson are torturers,” Mr Felaifel said. “Only one man? What does it mean? It means he is being used.” Mr Felaifel challenged Lord Avebury to fly to Australia and confront him. “Let him come here and question me on anything he wants. I am ready to face him,” he said. Lord Avebury said that as the country’s deputy head of intelligence, Mr Felaifel should be accountable for the incidence of torture, on the Nuremburg principle alone. “We (also) can say with absolute confidence that there are people living in the United Kingdom who claim to have been tortured personally by Felaifel, and I have met some of them.” The Courier-Mail has spoken to two London-based Bahrainis who claim to have been tortured by Mr Felaifel, and has received correspondence from a third and written accounts by two others. Mr Felaifel is named in several international reports as having tortured detainees. They are: a 1997 report by Human Rights Watch; a 1998 Voice of Bahrain report detailing the treatment of female detainees; a 1999 World Organisation Against Torture bulletin; a Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Bahrain report in 2000; and a United Nations Economic and Social Council bulletin in 1998. Lord Avebury said it was unlikely Mr Felaifel would have to face these claims if he was extradited to Bahrain because he could “spill the beans” on high profile figures. The Supreme Court in Brisbane has issued Mareva injunctions against Mr Felaifel to freeze his assets internationally and prevent him leaving the country until he details those assets to the court. Mr Felaifel said the Australian Islamic community had amassed hundreds of signatures of support for him in a petition.
He said the SIS sought to protect Bahrain from fundamentalist Shi’ite “terrorists” who had murdered the people, burnt refineries and military installations, and who wanted to install an anti-American regime similar to Iran’s.
Courier Mail WED 14 AUG 2002 Fugitive tycoon: I will fight By: Chris Griffith EXCLUSIVE CASHED up and wanted in his home country, Adel Jassim Felaifel faces the exile scenario experienced by high-flyer Christopher Skase a decade ago. The intelligence chief who bought $A50 million of property in Brisbane’s central business district spoke openly for the first time yesterday after fleeing his native country in March. The Bahrain media is intrigued that Mr Felaifel — wanted by Bahraini authorities for fraud, embezzlement, and issuing bad cheques — has made Brisbane his home. In his first Australian interview, Mr Felaifel, 40, denied claims that he used torture when he was Bahrain deputy head of intelligence. He said he lives “normally” and not opulently in Brisbane, and loves Australians. He said he is in Queensland for the long term and will beat civil court action focusing on accusations involving his Bahraini properties. “I’m going to fight this allegation until the last fibre of my body, and I’m sure and I know that with the help of God I will win this case.” Mr Felaifel said he was not in Australia “to run away from Bahrain”. “I’m here to protect my interests here and my business, and to develop and to look after my business,” he said. “Secondly, I am here to invest in Australia and other investors are coming. I’m here to help the country, to invest in the country, to employ all the contractors, employ all the people who work here. I’m paying my taxes on time. “My country is an island. We love the water and I found Brisbane is similar to my country. People like to be near the water, have their boat and have their apartment.” In property terms, Queensland was “a virgin state” with many investment opportunities, he said. And he turned the tables on Bahraini authorities by accusing them of “psychologically torturing” him by conducting a political witchhunt against him. “I myself have been tortured psychologically. I left my family. I left my friends. I sacrificed everything. I am the one who has been tortured,” he said. Mr Felaifel said he would be “on the next plane home” if Bahraini authorities guaranteed they would conduct a public, internationally monitored inquiry and members of the royal family with whom he had worked were also subjected to the same inquiry. He said the fraud claims against him were false. The absence of an extradition treaty means Bahrain cannot require Mr Felaifel to leave Australia, just as Australia could not tell Spain to deport Skase. A Supreme Court action in Queensland is to decide whether tens of millions of dollars invested in the state by Mr Felaifel were his to spend. In the Supreme Court he faces two powerful international businessmen: Omar Ali Babtain, the president of the United Medical Group which builds and runs hospitals worldwide, and Khalid Bin Nasser Bin Abdulla Al Misnad, the head of an international construction company whose sister is married to the Emir of Qatar. The pair claim Mr Felaifel defrauded them in six Middle-Eastern property deals. Mr Felaifel, who speaks English fluently, said he studied security law in Saudi Arabia and the UK before joining the Bahraini police in 1976. “They (the authorities) don’t appoint anybody to be a police officer unless they come from a good family,” he said. Mr Felaifel and Brisbane girlfriend, former Gulf Air stewardesses Anne Cherie Windsor, lived at the Stamford Plaza hotel before moving into a $383,000 unit at River Place Apartments in Brisbane, which they bought off the plan. He said he fled to Australia with his projects manager, Mohammed Taqawi. Mr Felaifel has a former wife and three children in Bahrain, but it is understood claims he has a wife in Sweden or any romantic attachment save for Ms Windsor are untrue. Under the terms of a court order, he is restricted to spending $3000 a week on personal expenses and Ms Windsor to $2000. In a court declaration, Mr Felaifel said his ordinary weekly living expenses included $1000 on his mobile phone, $500 on a land phone line, $3000 to travel to attend lawyers, and $1500 on accommodation. He rejects the idea he lives a multi-millionaire’s lifestyle.
“My house is very small, I’m not living a luxury life.” But he does own a sleek 13m Azimut motor yacht valued at about $500,000.
ADEL Jassim Felaifel … identified as the mystery Middle-Eastern buyer of $A50 million worth of prime Brisbane CBD buildings, but is sought by Interpol on fraud and embezzlement charges. Mystery CBD buyer named as Interpol fugitive Chris Griffith legal affairs reporter 10aug02 A MYSTERY Middle-Eastern buyer of $A50 million worth of prime Brisbane CBD buildings has been identified as the fugitive deputy head of Bahrain Intelligence who is sought by Interpol on fraud and embezzlement charges. Former colonel Adel Jassim Felaifel fled to Australia from Bahrain where he is wanted for unlawfully obtaining a document by force, unlawfully obtaining property by fraudulent means, and issuing cheques without sufficient funds. In his intelligence role, Mr Felaifel was responsible for the interrogation of political detainees. Australian property searches show firms associated with Mr Felaifel own the Queensland Government’s old Family Services building in George St, the former FAI Insurance Building in Eagle St, and Australian Alliance House and STC House in Queen St. The portfolio is worth $50 million. Now two powerful international figures have challenged Mr Felaifel’s ownership of these Brisbane icons. Omar Ali Babtain, the president and chief executive officer of the United Medical Group, which equips and manages hospitals throughout the world, and Khalid Bin Nasser Bin Abdulla Al Misnad, president of the Misnad Group, an international trading and construction company, have lodged the challenge in the Supreme Court in Brisbane. Court documents say Interpol sought Mr Felaifel’s arrest following a request from the Bahrain Government on May 20. Mr Babtain’s affidavit said Mr Felaifel has a former wife and three children in Bahrain, a wife and children in Sweden, a relationship with a former Gulf Air Stewardess – an Australian national – and another Gulf Air stewardess “wife”, Brisbane-born Anne Cherie Windsor, who owns five Queensland properties. He said Mr Felaifel sold him and Mr Misnad Middle-Eastern properties for $A59.5 million between June 2001 and April this year, but never transferred the contracts. The two believe their money funded his Australian property acquisitions. “I am informed by the managers of the Bank Saderat Iran Bahrain and Kuwait Bahrain Bank that none of the title transfers that Felaifel was to have effected under the contracts have been effected,” Mr Babtain said in his affidavit. In a court application dated July 4, 2002, Mr Babtain and Mr Misnad seek $A58 million from Mr Felaifel, trust ownership of the properties, and an order for a provisional liquidator to be appointed to his Australian companies. Mr Babtain said currency and jewellery had been found on Ms Windsor, who was interrogated in Bahrain and allowed to leave for Australia. In court documents filed in Brisbane, Mr Felaifel has detailed his role from 1979 to 2000 as head of the Security Intelligence Service “Shia section” in charge of identifying, questioning, and detaining hundreds of members of the Islamic Shia faith. At one stage he had a staff of three officers and 42 other personnel reporting to him. Mr Felaifel has denied “torture” claims against him in one of the court affidavits. In her court statement, Ms Windsor said she moved to Bahrain in July 1998 when she joined Gulf Air. She met Mr Felaifel in August 1998. She later resigned from Gulf Air and began managing Mr Felaifel’s Australian property portfolio. She said the pair were just “boyfriend and girlfriend”. She said she owned properties at Mountain Creek, Woody Point, the Mooloolaba Esplanade, and Hervey Bay (two properties) bought with her own money. Searches show Mr Felaifel and Ms Windsor’s Australian registered company Al Hejra Pty Ltd own 10 southeast Queensland properties at Minyama, Tallebudgera Valley (two), Redcliffe (three), Kippa Ring, Scarborough, Mooloolaba, and Brisbane city. Immigration sources said Mr Felaifel entered Australia on a multiple-entry visa which he obtained in Los Angeles. In a letter to The Courier-Mail this week, Al Hejra Pty Ltd said Mr Felaifel was a reputable businessman with substantial investments in Queensland and elsewhere. In his court affidavit, he denies emphatically the claims of fraud and says his wealth derived from his family property and business interests of his wife’s merged with his own. He strongly contests all wrongdoing and said he himself is owed $25 million in debts. He said he joined the Security Intelligence Service in 1979 as an investigating officer, eventually achieving the rank of colonel. He said his status changed in March 2000 when the King’s father died and his son introduced political reforms. Political opposition and the Shia movement demanded that all people involved in the detention of political prisoners, including himself, be prosecuted, he said.
He said he left Bahrain on May 2 because he was “being unjustifiably targeted in various ways for political motives”.