Nov 98: Three Women Abused; New Plot Announced by the Regime; SSC Pass Life Sentences Against Citizens
17 Oct-2 Nov: A series of hungar strikes by detainees swept through Jaw prison, in protest against the inhuman treatment they endure in prison, and calling on the Bahrain regime to respect their human rights set both in national constitution and international conventions. The number of those on strike tripled in an unexpected escalation of events, undeterred by the effort of prison authorities to diffuse and quell the strikes by means oftorture.
1 Nov: Mohammed Ali Al Ekri, 17, who was arrested a few times before, was again arrested by police. Amnesty International and the British government had intervened two years ago to secure his release after he was sentenced to 10 years jail for throwing a bottle on a police car. His father has been in jail for two and a half years now and the family are very worried about Mohammed’s fate.
3 Nov: fire gutted out a flower shop in the Al Adlia area, in an act of vandalism by the regime. Fortunately, no one was injured.
2-4 Nov: Daih attacked; houses ransacked, sons and daughters snatched. Security forces launched repressive attacks against the residents of Daih, west of the Capital Manama, where at night they conducted raids against houses, destroying furniture, walls, and ceilings and arresting the sons and daughters of citizens. The house of Mahdi Al-Bazaz was under siege for three days, his son, Isa (16), was taken as hostage. Walls of the house were demolished and the contents ruined by the torturer Khalid Al-Wazzan and his contingent. The car of the family was also towed away. A cousin of the family Yousif Ahmad Al-Yatamah was also taken a hostage, and the security forces are looking for Ali Mahdi Al-Bazaz. The security forces attacked the family again and arrested, Layla Mahdi Al-Bazaz, 20, and took her as a hostage.
4 Nov: University girl, Hanan Salman Haider, 20, was arrested following a dawn raid on her parents house. Her family was ill-treated and the contents of the house were ruined. The torturer Adel Flaifel led the attack on this family. Hanan has two other brothers who are already in detention, Ibrahim and Haider.
The same contingent launched a second attack on the same house, arresting Salwa Hasan Haider, 30, and Mona Salman Haider, 29, a mother of three, one of them is few days old. The latter was later released in a state of shock and her body carried signs of torture.
The house of Saeed Al-Aradi was attacked and both his son Amir, 19, and daughter Maryam were detained. Dozens of other houses were raided and many have disappeared with the raiders. Amongst those known to have snatched away were: Jamil Al-Saaf, 24, Yousif Al-Saaf, 15, Saeed Ibrahim Al-Sheikh, 28, Haitham Ali Al-Sheikh, 18, Seyyed Hassan Seyyed Jaffer, 23, Mohammed Ali Al-Ekri, 15, Hussain Jaffer Haider, 35.
5 Nov: the security forces arrested Ali Al Jaziri, 23, and Ali Hassan, 18. Both from Daih. They were taken to Budaya torture centre where they have been subjected to brutal torture by the mercenary Faruq Al Mawda.
6 Nov: the security forces arrested Farid Abdul Nabi, 18, from Daih, and raided the house of Aqeel Al Jaziri in Daih then his house in Nabih Saleh, destroying their contents and taking his two brothers, his sister and brother-in-law as hostages until he gives himself up.
7 Nov: An assault, led by Adel Flaifil was launched on Duraz area (some 15 miles west of Manama) leaving peoples’ properties in total ruin. This assult is similar to the previous ones mounted against Daih and Nabih Saleh. The inhabitants were intimidated, arrested and their properties vandalised. Pillage and plunder have characterised the Duraz assault. The security forces conducted a house to house daylight theft in Duraz. Jewelry, cash and all valuable objects were stolen during the intrusions. The identity of some of the persons arrested during the assault include Seyed Majeed Seyed Mahdi and his sons (Seyed Murtada, Seyed Hashim, Seyed Hassan, Seyed Hussain, Seyed Ebrahim, Seyed Ali, Seyed Fahdil. From Daih, Fahdil Sheikh Abas Al Rayis, 19 had also been arrested.
8 Nov: Scores of Saudis football fans were injured and arrested by the Bahraini security forces. The Saudis fans were celebrating following their soccer team’s victory 1-0 over the United Arab Emirates last Sunday as part of the Gulf Cup Tournament. The security forces were armed with “shotguns and truncheons”, said an eyewitness. Journalists and camera crews were prevented from covering the security forces attack and were forced to stay in the stadium for an hour. Later, reports revealed that a Saudi citizens was killed during the assault conducted by the Bahraini security forces on the Saudis fans. The victim whose identity is still unknown died in Salmaniya Hospital after unsuccessful attempts to save his life.
Dubai TV Channel aired the news of the assault by the Bahraini security forces against the Saudis fans attending the 14th Gulf soccer tournament. Scores of Saudis were indiscriminately and brutally beaten. A Kuwaiti citizen was brutally assaulted by the security forces, for carrying a poster with the phrase “May our prisoners be released”, expressing his hope for the release of Kuwaiti prisoners in Iraq.
9 Nov: On the eve of a scheduled visit to Bahrain by George Robertson, the British Defence Secretary on Monday 9 November, security forces launched an assault on the Nabih Saleh Island (5 miles south of Manama) and arrested scores of the Island’s inhabitants. Amongst the persons known to have been arrested during the assault are: Abbas Khamis, 26 (4th arrest), Mahdi Isa, 22 (3rd arrest), Ahmed Ashur, 22 (2nd arrest), Saeed Isa, 20, Abdul Amir Hassan Mansoor, 35 (married with children and this is his 2nd arrest), Mohammed Fardan, 28 (married with children and this is his 4th arrest). Nabih Saleh overnight siege was only lifted following the ruining of several houses, and intimidation of several families as part of the collective punishment policy adopted by the Al-Khalifa government in Bahrain.
10 Nov: The Bahraini ladies, Salwa Hasan Haider, 30 and Hanan Salman Haider, 19, were reportedly tortured in prison at the hands of the three notorious officers Khalid Al Wazan, Baqir Adnan Al-Wedaeand Adil Flaifel. Reliable sources confirmed that, Flaifel had personally supervised Salwa’s sessions of torture. Salwa was tied up and suspended by her hands and legs then subjected to barbarous flogging and was beaten and kicked all over her body. Both Salwa and Hanan are being detained in Qala prison after being transferred from Al Khamis detention centre. Another lady, Mariam Al-Aradi, was released on 6 November after cruel and degrading torture.
Moreover, arrests continued to take place on a regular basis in Daih village. Of those known to have been arrested Dr. Isa Ibrahim Matar, 27, whose house was ruined by the savage forces.
10 Nov: All uprising areas in Bahrain turned lights off at 8.00pm. Starting from Dair in Muharraq, through Sanabis and Daih to Duraz in northwest of Bahrain, from Bani Jamra through Aali and Karzakkan to Dar Kulaib, from Bilad al-Qadim, through Tobli, Jerdab to Nuwiedrat and Ma’amir, all Sitra residential areas, the people responded to switching the lights off on the 40th day commemoration of the martyr Mohammed Al-Sayyah, who died following his detention in a solitary cell filled with asbestos.
11 Nov: Two teenagers, Hussain Al Mulah, 16 and Isa Abdula Yousif, 18 had been transferred to the emergency hospital in Salmaneya. It is reported that Mr. Al Mulah had one of his hands amputated in hospital, and the other person is in critical conditions.
11 Nov: Massive campaign of assaults and arrests have characterised the past few days in Bahrain. The assaults happened just days before the commemoration of the martyr Mr. Al Sayyah on 10 November. Raids were first launched at Daih Village then covered the nearby areas and further to the south towards Sitra and Nabih Saleh. Scores of young people have been rounded up and shipped out to various torture centres.
The raids on Sitra and Nabih Saleh islands continued while more ruin was brought to peoples’ properties and arrests of the islands’ inhabitants have increased. One of the arrested is Abas Khamis Imran, 26, Nabih Saleh, who was brutally tortured and was threatened by the officer Adil Flaifel to assault his wife. Mr Khamis had his hands and legs both tied up and was kept suspended upside-down for 8 hours. Others who have been arrested from the same island are: Ahmed Ashur Ali, 20, Abas Yousif Mihsin, 18, Abdul Wahab Abdul Amir Mirza, 20, Jum’a Ali Uthman, 20, Hassan Ahmed Hassan, 20, Mahmmud Ahmed Fardan, 28, Mahdi Isa Abdula, 22.
In Daih, more arrests were reported: Mohammed and Qasim Al Daihi are brothers aged 20 and 22 respectively were arrested during one of the security forces raids. The brothers’ father is in detention for almost three years without charge.
Three arrested children from Sanad area are being subjected to savage torture in detention. The children are: Ali Jaffar, 15, Seyed Murtada Seyed Majid, 15, Hussain Mahfud, 16.
11 Nov: Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action, expressing concern over the arrest of the aforementioned women. It condemned their torture by the regime and said that they were beaten on the soles of the feet (Falaqa) and suspended by their limbs. It went on to say that the security forces “ransacked houses, destroyed or confiscated personal property and arrested a number of people”. It continued ” some people are believed to have been detained as “hostages” for relatives sought by the authorities.” It urged that “all detainees be granted immediate access to their families and legal counsel and that the reasons and legal basis for their arrest be immediately clarified.”
A second Urgent Action by Amnesty International on 11 November expressed its fears of torture of the teenager Mohammed Ali Al Ikri, 17, who was re-arrested at his mother’s home in Al Qadam village on 1 November 1998. Amnesty called for his immediate release and the assurance that he is being treated humanely.
14 Nov: Several citizens sentenced to life by an Al-Khalifa judge. The State Security Court convened on 14 November under the presidency of a member of the ruling Al-Khalifa family and sentenced several citizens under the arbitrary justice system that has been condemned by all international legal and human rights organisations. The Al-Khalifa judge issued arbitrary sentences resulting in the following: Case No. 217/1997
Mohammed Redha Al-Sayyed Ali, 27, Employee. Life sentence
Ali Darwish Ali Redha, 28, Engineer. Life sentence
Haji Khalil Darwish, 54, Businessman. Life sententence (in absentia)
Jamil Abdul Hussain Abd Ali, 35, Traditional Pharmicist, 15 years sentence
Mohammed Abd Ali Jasim Isa Yousif, 24, Teacher, 10 years sentence
Ali Obol Al-Qasim Abdulla, 26, Teacher, 10 years sentence
Yousif Habib Hussain, 29, Labourer, 10 years
Hussain Abo Al-Fadl Ahmad Al-Mosawi, 26, Electrician, 10 years (in absentia)
Ismail Khalil Darwish, 23, Fisherman. Acquitted.
Saeed Abdulla Majid Abdulla, 31, Electrician. Acquitted.
The State Security Court was condemned by both the UK Bar Human Rights Committee and the Parliamentary Human Rights Group on 28 October following the publication of a 75-page legal report proving -without a doubt- that this court is an illegal one in accordance to Bahrain’s Constitution and in accordance with all international conventions.
The continuation of this court is an affront to civilisation and further evidence that the Al-Khalifa ruling family disregards all its publicly stated obligations before any respected international personality or body.
15 Nov: Leeda Ahmed Al- Oraibi, 23, was in bed when the dawn raiders stormed her family’s house in Sanabis on 15 November at 5.45 am. Members of the family pleased with the raiders to leave the girl alone until the morning and that they would take her o the specified police station. Non of the requests were listened to. Instead, the foreign-staffed security forces stormed all the bedrooms and snatched the young girl from her family. Leeda was taken away to the Al-Khamis Police Headquarters where several citizens had been tortured to death in the past 4 years.
When the family of Leeda approached Al-Khamis Police Station to enquire about their daughter, the controlling police officer said to them “we do not have your daughter here”.
20 Nov: Three women, Hanan Salman Haidar, 20, Salwa Hassan Haidar, 30 and Leeda Ahmed Al Oraibi, 23, were made to depict role-play acts and impersonate characters in public places in Rif’a. The Women were forced after sessions of torture (included flogging, threats of assault and indecent treatment) to sign pre-fabricated confessions of unfounded allegations which would incriminate them.
The OMCT (World Organisation Against Torture) has issued an urgent Intervention regarding the arrests of the women and children in Daih village. The intervention called on the Bahraini regime to take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the adults and children aforementioned held in detention and order their immediate release. It called for a full and impartial investigation into the alleged arbitrary detentions and physical abuse.
21 November: Mr. Mohammed Jaber Sabah, member of the dissolved Bahraini parliament congratulated the people of Qatar following the announcement made of 16 Nov by the Amir of Qatar. The latter diclared his intention to formulate a State Constitution and to introduce an elected parliament. Mr. Sabah warmly welcomed the move on behalf of the Bahraini people. He hoped that it would persuade the Bahraini regime of the need to introduce similar democratic reforms in the country.
22 Nov: The unconstitutional SSC has passed arbitrary sentences against four young Bahrainis, issued after summary trials held in camera in which the judiciary is presided by members of the Al Khalifa ruling family. The persons sentenced are: Sadiq Abdul Hussain Al Shu’la, 23, Jaffar Mohammed Jaffer Al Qatari, 22, Seyed Wasam Seyed Alawi Al-Mahroos, Mohammed Ali Al Aradi, 23. All four sentenced for 5 years jail.
The security forces continues it arbitrary arrests of Bahrainis in a gross violation of the national constitution and international conventions. Seyed Jaber Seyed Adnan Seyed Shubar, 33 , Karbabad, was arrested lately. His brother Seyed Fahdil was sentenced for 10 years after unfair summery trial by the SSC. Also, it was reported that Jameel Sa’af and Ali Al Jaziri have been taken back to Al Khamis torture centre after brutal sessions of torture in Al Qal’a prison.
23 Nov: The foreign-staffed security forces announced the “discovery” of a plot against the autocratic tribal regime. The announcement was designed in such a way to justify the discriminatory and hate-based policies against a wide section of Bahrain society. This time, the list included the name of a Lebanese as one of six people arrested “on suspicion of planning to carry out acts of sabotage and to try to smuggle arms and explosives into the country”. The names picked up, this time, by the interior ministry for announcement were:
1. Suhail Mahdi Shehade, Lebanese
2. Ali Mahdi Ahmad Yousif, 20 years old
3. Mahmood Mohsin Mansoor Hussain, 19 years old.
4. Yousif Hassan Yousif Folath
5. Abdul Amir Ahmad Saeed Al-Aradi, 17 years old.
6. Hesham Ali Hasan Ahmad, 18 years old.
Two possible explanations for the inclusion of the Lebanese in this stage-managed play. One, to link events in Bahrain with the Shia of Lebanon. Another objective would be to avenge the death of a person, suspected of being a member of the Bahraini intelligence service, in Lebanon last July.
Many of those arrested this month had been forced to sign confessions to save their female-relative that had been taken hostages for extracting confessions.
British Government on Bahrain
16 Nov: Lord Avebury, Vice-Chair of the British Parliamentary Human Rights Group submitted several questions to the British government concerning the situation in Bahrain. He asked Her Majesty’s Government ” following the recommendation by the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth office (Mr. Fatchett) that the authorities in Bahrain should open a dialogue with the Committee for Popular Petition, what action will take over the summons for questioning of former MP Ali Qasim Rabia and Sheikh Essa Abdulla Al Jawder, members of the CPP, for writing to the Amir about the proposed dialogue.” Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean replied “When we receive that Ali Qasim Rabia and Sheikh Essa Abdulla Al Jawder have been summoned for questioning we shall consider what, if any, action should be taken.”
Lord Avebury also asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether they will seek to persuade the authorities in Bahrain to give serious consideration to the recommendation made in the report The Crisis of Human Rights in Bahrain: The rule of Law Under Threat, published by the Parliamentary Human Rights Group and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales on 28th October.” Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean replied “The recommendations are consistent with our human rights concerns we raise regularly with the Bahraini authorities.”
Lord Avebury, submitted two further questions (16 November) to HM British government concerning the situation in Bahrain. Firstly, he asked Her Majesty’s Government “what information they have received from the Bahraini Government, following their assurances that the death in custody of Mr. Nooh Khalil Al Nooh was being investigated and that the authorities would keep the British Embassy in Bahraini fully informed.” Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean replied “Our Ambassador in Bahraini raises this matter regularly, most recently with the Interior Minister on 3 November who said that the investigation is continuing. The Ambassador will continue to raise the matter until the investigation is concluded.”
Lord Avebury also asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether they will make available to members of both houses of parliament, who go on overseas visits at the expense of their hosts, information in their possession about the antecedents of those hosts.” Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean replied “Any member of either houses that intends to travel overseas at the expense of their hosts is welcome to get in touch with the respective government and ask for any unclassified information on their hosts that that department my hold.” British government answers questions:
Bahrain: Mercenaries are trained to repress and replace citizens
The people of Bahrain have vowed never to be silent about one of the worst crimes committed by the intelligence department. The three ladies (Hanan Salman Haidar, 20, Salwa Hassan Haidar, 30 and Leeda Ahmed Al Oraibi, 23,) who had been arrested between 4 and 15 November, are reportedly suffering from injuries and extreme conditions. It is known now that the following torturers are personally supervising the torture sessions: Adel Flaifel, Baqir Adnan Al-Wedae, Khalid Al-Wazzan and Khalid Al-Ma’awdeh.
The “Literary Review” newsletter published an article ( October 1998 issue) about the Sheikh Al Jamri. The article titled ” Silenced Voices” was written by Siobhan Dowd, who said ” Throughout the 1990s. The atmosphere of repression and discontent, one feeding the other , intensified. Peaceful protests were broken up with firearms. Al Jamri instituted another petition, attracting 25, 000 signatures”. It continued ” it comes to surprise to find that the countries most prominent opposition activist, religious cleric, former judge and prolific poet, is behind bars. Al Jamri aged 61, has been detained without charge or trial since January 1996.” It went on to say that “Despite the vague charges of ‘treason’ that have been leveled at him, Al Jamri’s only crime is his persistent call for constitutional reform.”
More arrests, abuses and harassment:
The arrest, torture, destruction and confiscation of peoples’ properties continue with utter disregard to International Human Rights Conventions acceded or ratified by the regime. On 21 November, a dawn raid on the house of the young man Qasim Abas, 23, from Sanad (a university student) resulted in his arrest and the destruction and confiscation of the contents of his house. Also, the teenager Hussain Mohammed Al Mula, 16, Duraz, whose right hand was amputated has been taken to Al Qal’a prison. His arrest on 22 November, came after he spent 12 days in hospital during which no visitors were allowed to see him including all members of his family.
No work for Bahrainis:
The government has stepped up its attacks on the citizens by abusing the powers available for the state. Many poor families had their electricity cut-off in the past month. A new phenomenon is the appearance of people with electricity bills going to restaurants and to public places asking for help in payment of the bills.
Two weeks ago, the local media reported that a family of 16 people in Sar are living in one room and are supported by one member of the family who earns BD 175 ($467) a month. This is in a country whose government claims to have achieved the best level of “Human Resources Development” in the Arab World.
In the mean time, Ali Saleh, a columnist in Akhbar Al-Khalij reported on 25 November that adverts were published in India for recruiting technicians and engineers to run the new power station in Hidd. He also reported that other adverts in Indian newspapers were asking for “Arabic language typists” to work in Bahrain. This comes amid mass lay off of Bahraini employees. The last of which was the sacking last week without warning of 93 workers, by Bahrain Aluminium Extrusion Company. Recently imported Bedouins from Syria and Jordan are expected to be employed in place of the dismissed Bahrainis. At present, scores of these people are being trained in the ex-British Military RAF Base (in Muharraq) on the use of police dogs and methods of repression to be deployed against the people of Bahrain. To complete the picture, the London-based Daily Telegraph’s professional recruitment section published on 26 November, advertised for new military-related jobs in Bahrain.
Meanwhile, the interior ministry started summoning the families whose bread-winners are in jail. The families were interrogated about their sources of finance for living. They were threatened that if their standard of living stays without collapse, the intelligence service will mount attacks against them and arrest more members of their family.
Saudis express their bitterness:
The Saudis have expressed their bitterness and condemnation for the assault on the Saudi fans by the Bahraini security forces. The assault took place at the 14th Gulf Soccer Tournament on 8 November 98, while the Saudi fans were celebrating their team’s victory over the UAE’s. One Saudi Newspaper ( Al Riyadi) commented ” three minutes made the Bahraini stadium full of injured persons, blood and a kicked child.” The Bahraini regime has claimed that the Saudis fans were the ones who instigated the security forces to attack. The Saudis have declined these accusations and raised a number of questions such as : why have the Bahraini authorities banned all camera men from covering the event? and why have the Bahraini authorities confiscated all camera films? and why have the security forces assaulted the Saudi official team camera man and broke his camera?.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
26 November 1998
Fax: (44) 171 278 9089
Bahrain: A report on the Bahraini Lawyers’ Society A report about the legal and political system in Bahrain and freedom of association was published. The report titled ” Confiscation of the Bahraini Lawyers’ Society” was on 30 November issued by the Arab Commission for Human Rights. The report covered in detail the Bar Society’s case from a legal and human rights perspective.
Another fabricated plot: The announcement of the discovery of a ‘plot’ against the Al Khalifa regime on 23 November, came just three weeks before the convening of the GCC Summit in Abu Dabi on 7-9 December 98. The announcement came as usual to attract sympathy from other Gulf states for the Bahraini regime’s internationally condemned policies against Bahrainis. The arrest of teenagers and accusing them of planning to carry acts that would threaten the security of the state has demonstrated the bankruptcy of the regime. The teenagers ( Ali Mahdi Yousif, Mahmood Mohsin Mansoor Hussain, Yousif Hassan Yousif Folath, Abdul Amir Ahmed Saeed Al Aradi and Hesham Ali Hassan Ahmed) were arrested along with a Lebanese. The extent of torture has made it possible for the government to fabricate any scenario or self-fulfilling prophecy. Many of those arrested this month had been forced to sign confessions to save their female-relatives that had been taken hostages. Two ladies (Salwa Hassan Haidar, 30, Hanan Salman Haidar, 20) were arrested earlier in the month and are being tortured in Isa Town Detention Centre alongside scores of people who had been arbitrarily detained as part of the official collective punishment policy. Assault on Saudis shown on TV: In spite of the cover up efforts by the Bahraini regime regarding the Bahraini security forces’ attack on the Saudi fans on 8 November, two TV channels have managed to capture the event. The Sky Sports Channel broadcast on Friday 27 November, clips of the assault on the Saudi fans. the clips showed how the Bahraini security forces without any warning attacked the Saudis who were celebrating their team’s victory over the UAS’s as part of the 14th Gulf Soccer Tournament. The Bahraini regime has attempted to prevent reporters, journalists and camera men from covering the attack and sought to justify its assault on innocent Saudis by blaming the Saudi fans of initiating the attack. The UAE’s TV has broadcast similar clips while the Saudi newspapers have documented eye witnesses accounts of the barbarous assault. Arbitrary arrests: On 24 November, on King’s Fahad Causeway, Abas Al Jaziri, from Nabih Saleh, was on his way back to Bahrain after he performing pilgrimage in Sauudi Arabia. He was arrested but no reason was given for his arbitrary detention. On 26 November, the security forces raided Daih village and fired Rubber Bullets on bystanders. A teenage, Aqeel Ali Hassan Al Asfar, 16, was shot during the security forces armed assault. The injured teenager was then beaten and kicked while he laid down on the ground unable to move. Aqeel’s three brothers (Shiekh hussain, Qasim and Mohammed) are also under arrest. Also, a number of persons were arrested during this savage raid on Daih. Amongst the arrested are: Mohammed Yaqub yousif, 20, Hussain Abdula Sa’f, 17, Hassan Abdula Sa’f, 20, Isa Mansoor Al A’adab, 17, Hussain Abdul Rasul Al Ashuri, 16. On 25 November, two teenagers (Ahmed Salman Al Ali , 16 and Abdula Mirza Al Taitun, 16. Both from Sanabis) were summoned to the one of the torture centres and undergone brutal torture. On 29 November, at around midnight, the security forces arrested a young man Akbar Ali Jassim, 20, from his house in Daih. Bahrain Freedom Movement 30 November 1998 Fax: (44) 171 278 9089
APA and BHRO letter of Appeal:
7 Nov: The Cairo based Arab Program for Human Rights Activists and the Bahrain Human Rights Organisation sent a co-drafted open letter to the Amir of Bahrain expressing deep concern over the intimidation of two members of the Committee for Popular Petition by the Ministry of Interior on 24 October.The open letter urged the Bahraini government to abide by the country’s constitution as well as international conventions on human rights.
Ali Qasim Rabi’a, 61, and Isa Al Jawdar, 57, were interrogated and threatened of sever consequences if they continue to request meeting the Amir. Two other CPP members are in detention, Sheikh Abdul Amir Al Jamri and Abdul Wahab Hussain. The summoning of the CPP members came after the CPP submitted a letter to the Amir of Bahrain on 18 October, requesting an appointment with the Amir for handing the Popular Petition calling on him to restore the rule of constitutional law. The letter was sent by registered mail and had been intercepted before reaching the Amir.
Gulf States Newsletter, 30 November 1998
Vol. 23, No. 600
Bahrain before the Bar
“The trials before the [Bahrain] the State Security Court violates article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights owing to the apparent lack of due process in the Court.”
This statement, by the UN Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Param Coomaraswamy, summarises the findings of a report published last August by the Bar of England and Wales Human Rights Committee and the Parliamentary Human Rights Group. The report was entitled The Crisis of Human Rights in Bahrain: the rule of law under threat: a report on the practice and procedure of the State Security Court in Bahrain.
In his introduction to the report, Lord Avebury, Chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, pointed out that Bahrain is Not threatened by external enemies and that the mainstream of the domestic opposition has made very moderate demands. There have been few calls for the overthrow of the ruler or the establishment of a republican system of government. There are not he said, even demands for an entirely elected assembly- the right of the ruler to nominate a third legislature is conceded.
Examining the Courts
While previous studies by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have dealt with the overall human rights situation in Bahrain, this the first report to focus on the court system.
The report argues that the Bahraini court system, rather than providing a means of justice, instead violates all international legal norms concerning the right to a fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal. Instead, the State Security Court has become a symbol of the crisis of human rights in the country.
In line with previous studies by human rights watchdogs, the Parliamentary report notes that defendants before the State Security Court have been subject to arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention and inadequate prison conditions. They are denied access to Lawyers and medical help, given little or no time to prepare their defence and are unable to call witnesses or test prosecution evidence. Defendants are unable to appear in open court, appeal against convictions or to gain reviews of their remands in custody. They are also routinely subject to torture and inhuman treatment by the investigating authorities who rely on illegally extracted ” confessions” which are not examined by the court.
The Parliamentary report makes eleven recommendations to improve the human rights situation in Bahrain. These include: restoration of the parliament system in accordance with the constitution; elimination of the elements of the State Security Legislation that undermine citizens’ rights; retrial of all persons convicted before the State Security Court; provision of advice from Lawyers in other countries on how to bring the Bahraini judicial system into line with international standards; investigation of all claim of torture and extra-judicial killings.
The Bahraini government to the report has, as expected, been negative. In recent weeks semi-official Bahraini media such as Akhbar Al Khalij have blasted BBC reporting of the situation in the emirate because ” it is involved in propping up terrorism in Bahrain” and complained that ” half of the BBC staff are drug addicts and that explains why they support terrorism in Bahrain.” The Bahraini Embassy ion London greeted the Parliamentary report with the claim that ” Bahrain is recognised as one of the most tolerant peaceful and stable countries. It has a well established rule of law.” The Embassy argued that Bahrain has been ” subjected to a campaign of sustained terrorism” involving murder, arson and looting.
The Embassy stated that the situation is now under control and that ” the government of Bahrain will use all means available within the law to protect its citizens” but that ” all necessary measures” have been taken ” in accordance with its laws.”
Repression is not a solution
Time to pay attention
The launch of a major study by the British Bar Human Rights Committee and the Parliamentary Human Rights Group on 28 October has confirmed the cause of the crises: the unconstitutionality of the government’s practices and procedures.
Whether it is a sign of maturity or bankruptcy, the actions of the Government of Bahrain over the past few months indicate a marked shift in its traditional policies, especially those with regards to the relations with the United Kingdom. Also, whether it is a result of provocation or a sign of desperation, the vicious attacks by local media on the British Government indicates a serious crisis of confidence between London and Manama. A semi-official newspaper (Akhbar Al-Khalij) called on the British Government to apply the new anti-terror laws on the BBC because “it is involved in propping up terrorism in Bahrain”. Another article said that “half of the BBC staff are drug addicts and that explains why they support terrorism in Bahrain”.
To the Al Khalifa any challenge to the their dictatorship is a terrorist act. Every civil action by groups or individuals is considered a conspiracy to undermine the security of the state. Writing slogans on the walls is one of those serious acts that are considered serious crimes. They base their judgement on their conception that whatever they do is the right thing for the people of Bahrain who have no right to demand anything else. The master-slave relationship is still the order of the day in this Gulf island.
The opposition in Bahrain has refrained from violent acts and confined its activities to civil resistance. They will continue to do so. From, left, right and centre, the people are determined to pursue their civilised campaign to attain a degree of freedom necessary to create a modern civil society based on democratic institutions.
The Al Khalifa have often justified their refusal of the concepts of human rights, democracy and civil society claiming they contradicted their traditions. According to the bedouin heritage, the chief of the tribe is there to be obeyed and served and not to be questioned. The idea of accountability does not exist in their traditions, and hence they resist fiercely any attempt to bring about a situation in which the members of the ruling tribe may be held accountable. The opposition has attempted to act in accordance with constitutional law, tradition, logic and international conventions, and presented the legitimate demands of the people through petitions and letters to the ruler. He has failed to act in a statesmanship manner and preferred to offer a deaf ear to the people.
The situation has been exacerbated by the employment of harsh tactics against the innocent people, and events spiralled to the point of no return. Today, the people have vowed not to normalise relations with the Al Khalifa until they have succumbed to the will of the people, and initiated a process of dialogue leading to the reinstatement of the Constitution and the election of the National Assembly.
The opposition, on the other hand, has succeeded in internationalising their case and won the support of parliaments, political parties and human rights groups because their cause is just, and have attained international recognition. The danger is that if the crisis persists, the people may change their ultimate demands and change their positition with regards to coexistence with the Al Khalifa family. There are indications that things are starting to move in that direction, and the worry is that the whole country may plunge in a bloody conflict. The opposition has refused to be drawn into violence, but the extent of terror being unleashed by the foreign-staffed security forces and riot police on the population may force some people to start defending themselves employing any means at their disposal. The Al Khalifa have failed to heed the call for reform and has opted to enforce its despotic rule by the use of arms. This is at a time when other governments in the region have realised the importance of transparency and started to update their system of governance.
Even the Saudis are likely to improve their internal situation especially if Prince Abdulla becomes the king. There have been indications that a more open internal policy is being contemplated by him. The Qataris are to have their first municipality elections, which is possibly to be followed by parliamentary ones. Such eventualities are hard to contemplate or accept by the Al Khalifa of Bahrain who have pioneered the policies of torture and mass arrests. They have adopted policies that rely mainly on repression and denial of basic rights as a means to contain the situation. They have embarked on programmes aiming at attaining a degree of sympathy from certain quarters in the West.
What is certain to make this change is a brave decision by the Amir to uphold the rule of constitutional law in the country and allow a freely elected parliament to function. Anything short of this is unlikely to produce tangible results in the fields of security, stability and development. The friends of the Al Khalif are encouraged to bring home to them that their future depends on good government based on respect of human rights. Torture, repression and lack of freedom is the way to demise of despotic regimes.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
1 November 1998
Fax: (44) 171 278 9089