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Bahrain: Young citizen arrested for peaceful expression of opinion A young Bahraini was released yesterday after a 24-hours arrest for expressing his opinion in a peaceful way. Ghazi Mohammad, 26, was arrested on Tuesday, few days after he had been stopped by police for displaying a banner on his car saying: “No to 2002 constitution, Yes to 1973 Constitution”. The Al-Khalifa administered judiciary charged him with two “crimes”: the first is provoking and urging enemity of the system, in accordance with article 165 of the 1976 penal code. The second is: spreading rumours that could undermine public security and public interest, in accordance with article 268 of the same code. The first crime is punishable with three years prison imprisonment while the second is punishable with two years imprisonment. He was released after paying BD50 ($140) bail. It is yet another case confirming the absolute control by the Al Khalifa dictatorship on people’s life, and the absence of the rule of law independent of the ruling family. In another development, the four political societies in addition to independent personalities, held their second conference on 10th February, to makr the third anniversary of the repeal of the contractual 1973 Constitution and the imposition of the Al Khalifa constitution. As had happened last year, the Al Khalifa prevented foreign participants from Kuwait and Morrocoo, from taking part in the conference. The conference called for the reinstatement of the contractual Constitution of 1973, and the holding of independent elections in which all people of Bahrain can freely choose their representatives. The Al Khalifa dictatorship has exploited the country’s wealth to hide the political realities from the outside world, through a systematic policies of deception and misinformation. The people of Bahrain have been heartened by the positive developments in Iraq including the recent elections for a National Assembly to draft a contractual constitution for all Iraqis. Many have expressed hope that the Al Khalifa would repeal the constitution they had imposed on the country and adopt the contractual constitution of 1973, which is the only source of legitimacy of the ruling family. On another level, the former President of the Islamic Court of Cassastion, gave a damning interview to a local newspaper in which he accused the Al Khalifa of refusing to reform the judiciary. Sheikh Dr Abdul Hussain Al Oraibi, resigned his post last October after he realized that the Al Khalifa had refused any reform to the much-criticised judiciary. He said that he had proposed many reforms but none was implemented. He said that he had realized that it was impossible to reform the system from within. It had built on corruption and dictatorship to the extent that anyone participating in it would either be absorbed and silenced, or take the painful decision to leave. He chose the latter. The Al-Khalifa-controlled Supreme Judiciary Council issued a rebuttal of Dr Al Oraibi’s statements in the interview but gave no substantial explanation for refusing to implement judicial reforms. Bahrain Freedom Movement

17 February 2005

Bahrain: Sheikh Hamad refuses to listen to people’s demands   The political situation in the country has, once again, been plunged into more confusion after the ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, refused to receive the popular petition calling for the reinstatement of the country’s only binding constitution of 1973. The petition had been signed by more than 70,000 people and was intended to show the Al Khalifa ruling family their displeasure at the unilateral decision by the ruler to annule the legitimate document and impose his own tailor-made set of rules on the people. On 17th January 2005, the four political societies which had sponsored the petition last year wrote to Sheikh Hamad asking him for a meeting to hand over the petition. They posted the letter to him and waited for a positive response. Unfortunately, he asked his secretary to write back and inform the societies that Sheikh Hamad did not want to see them. The letter from the palace was received at the end of January and was circulated on the internet. In the letter, the minister of the palace insisted that the societies had to go through Sheikh Hamad’s Shura Council to put their views, and that was the only way to propose any changes to the Al Khalifa constitution. He declined to give a date for the petition to be handed to Sheikh Hamad. The letter was humiliating and derogatory of the societies which represent the majority of the people of Bahrain. In response, the four political societies decided to post the petition, together with the more than 70,000 signatures to the palace. On 31st January, a box containing the signatures was sent by ordinary post to Sheikh Hamad, together with a letter expressing disgust at the refusal by the ruler to meet them. The petition was signed last year following the Constitutional conference which was held in February 2004 to commemorate the day when the people’s constitution was unlawfully abrogated by the Al Khalifa. As the societies began to collect signatures, the Al Khalifa ordered the arrest of the people collecting the signatures. More than 40 were detained unlawfully, forcing the societies to stop collecting the signatures. The societies have now decided to hand the petition to the ruler as they prepared for a second constitutional conference at the middle of February. The political ball has now started rolling, and is likely to cause acute embarrassment to the Al Khalifa whose reputation has been severely undermined by last year’s momentous events that led to unlawful arrests and maltreatment. It is time for those promoting democracy and freedom in the world to focus on the absolute dictatorship in Bahrain.   Bahrain Freedom Movement

1st February 2005

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