1990s uprising in Bahrain

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1990s Bahraini Uprising
Date December 17, 1994 (1994-12-17) - February 14, 2001 (officially)
Location  Bahrain
Causes Dissolution of parliament
Goals Reinstatement of parliament
Methods
Result Democratic reforms; reinstatement of parliament
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures
Casualties
1 (allegedly killed by a man from Nuwaidrat called Isa Qambar)
40+ civilians killed (including one executed on charges of killing a soldier)
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The 1990s uprising in Bahrain (Arabic: الانتفاضة التسعينية في البحرين‎) also known as the uprising of dignity[1] (Arabic: انتفاضة الكرامة‎) was an uprising in Bahrain between 1994 and 2001 in which leftists, liberals and Islamists joined forces to demand democratic reforms. The uprising caused approximately forty deaths and ended after Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa became the Emir of Bahrain in 1999[2] and a referendum on 14–15 February 2001 massively supported the National Action Charter.[3]

Background[edit]

The late Amir, Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa dissolved the parliament and suspended the constitution in 1975.

In 1971, Bahrain became independent from Britain and in 1973 the country had its first parliamentary election. However, two years later the constitution was suspended and the assembly dissolved by the late Amir, Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa after it rejected the State Security Law. The act also known as "the precautionary law" was proposed by Henderson. It gave police wide arresting powers and allowed individuals to be held in prison without trial or charge for up to three years for mere suspicion "that they might be a threat to the state". Starting in August 1975, widespread arrests were conducted including members of the dissolved parliament. The "ruthless system of repression" launched by Henderson lasted for over twenty five years. Repeated allegations of systematic torture, arbitrary arrests of thousands and assassinations made by opposition activists and human rights groups were denied by Henderson who said he "has never been involved in torture nor has he ever ordered his officers to torture those who have been arrested".[4]

In 1992, a petition signed by 280 society leaders, including some of the dissolved parliament members called for the restoration of the national assembly. Initially, the government set up a thirty-member appointed "Shura council" assigned with "commenting" on government proposed legislation. Another petition the following month concluded that the newly formed council "does not replace the national assembly as a constitutional and legislative authority". A delegation of six members, half Sunnis and half Shias representing petition organizers met with the Amir who told them Shura council "was all [they] could expect".[5]

Aims[edit]

Like other uprisings during the 1990s, the uprising's stated aims were for democratic reform, and it was considered as the first movement in the Arab world where leftists, liberals and Islamists joined forces on a common ground calling for restoration of the dissolved parliament and suspended constitution.

Although attempts were made to portray a totalitarian nature of an Islamic fundamentalist ideology, the events and the moderate discourse of their leaders attracted support from all human rights organizations (such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Article 19, UN Human Rights Sub-Commission, etc.) as well as from members of parliament in the UK, France, USA and the EU. The final aim of the uprising was the reinstatement of the 1973 constitution and respect of human rights in Bahrain, while preserving plurality of opinions in society.

Main events[edit]

The uprising began in June 1994, with a picket by unemployed people in front of the ministry of labour in June 1994. Over 1,500 demonstrator tried to organize a sit-in front of Ministry of Labor protesting the increasing rate of unemployment which had reached 15 percent. Riot police dispersed them using tear gas. Similar incidents occurred in August and September. Another petition was launched, this time it was open to all citizens. Organizers said they collected over 20,000 signatures most of whom were Shia.[5]

In November, hundreds of Shia protested against a charity marathon. The route of the marathon was through some Shia villages, who considered the female dressings offensive. Reportedly, some protesters threw stones on the marathon, which prompted security forces to conduct a number of arrests. The following month Ali Salman, a protest leader, was arrested after being accused of inciting the incident. The arrest sparked further protests and violence in Manama and Sitra. Some protesters used Molotov cocktails to attack "police stations, banks and commercial properties". On the other hand, riot police used tear and rubber bullets, sometimes "fired at street level and from helicopters". It was also reported that police used live ammunition on some occasions.[5]

By December, the number of detainees was between 500 and 600 according to the US Embassy. A number of opposition leaders, including Ali Salman were exiled in January 1995. Protests and arrests continued amid some government statements of releasing prisoners. In February the government said only 300 remain in prison, while activists said the number was as high as 2000. The level of violence and arrests increased again in March and April. Abdul Amir al-Jamri, the leader of the uprising was arrested on 1 April along with other protest leaders such as Abdulwahab Hussain and Hassan Mushaima.[5]

One month after their arrest, the government started jailhouse negotiations with opposition leaders. About twenty one-or-two-hour meetings were conducted in four months between activists one side and Henderson, his deputy; Adel Flaifel or Minister of Interior on the other side.[5] An agreement named "the Initiative"[6] was reached in which opposition leaders would calm people in exchange for releasing all of those not convicted in courts. The government reportedly agreed that at a later stage after establishment of security, it would start a political dialogue with opposition. Initially, protests paused, however they resumed after the government denied such an agreement existed.[5]

In December 1995 and January 1996, two bombs exploded in a shopping mall and a hotel without causing any casualties. Opposition leaders were arrested. No charges were filed against them (as of May 2007). Bombings continued in the following months collecting the lives of eight people. The number of deaths by this time reached twenty four, including several deaths while in police custody due to alleged torture as well as three security forces. In May, a protester was sentenced to death penalty for allegedly killing a policeman. During this period, arrests increased, especially among women and children.[5]

In June, the government said it had detected a network called the "military wing of Hizb AllahBahrain". The government alleged it was backed by Iran and had caused the unrest. This claim was described by Human Rights Watch as lacking any credibility.[5]

The uprising was characterized by extreme forms of suppression, riots, stoning and bomb attacks. Over forty people were killed, mostly by the security forces. Most of the events of the uprising took place in the villages and towns of the indigenous Baharna. There was a strong religious component in the violence, with security forces attacking Bahrani areas because the Baharna are Shia. The rhetoric of the pro-government quarters attempted to stain the image of the uprising, but at the end, the situation had to improve following the longest ever uprising in the history of Bahrain.

Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the National Action Charter[edit]

The violence generally subsided after King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa carried out political reforms after he ascended to the throne in 1999. On 14 and 15 February 2001, the National Action Charter was overwhelmingly approved by Bahrainis, with 98.4% in favour.[3]

Deaths[edit]

This list is not complete

Name Age From Date of Death Cause of Death
Hanni Abbas Khamis[7] 24 Sanabis 17 December 1994 shot dead
Hani Ahmad Al-Wasti[7] 22 Jidhafs 17 December 1994 shot dead
Haji Mirza Ali Abdulredha[7] 70 Qadam 20 Dec 1994 Beaten to death by security forces
Abdul Qadir Al-Fatlawi[7] 18 Diraz 12 January 1995 shot dead
Mohammed Redha Manssor[8] 34 Bani Jamra 25 January 1995 shot dead
Hussain Ali Al-Safi[7][8] 26 Sitra 26 January 1995 shot dead
Aqeel Salman Al-Saffar 1 year Bilad Al-Qadeem 8 February 1995 inhaled tear gas for prolonged period
Hussain Ma'atooq 12 Al Daih 8 March 1995 died after a holicopter flew low above the house. He was on top of the house.
Hamid Abdulla Qasim[7][9] 17 Diraz 26 March 1995 shot dead
Ibrahim al-Saeedi N/A N/A 26 March 1995 A soldier who was allegedly killed by a protester called Isa Qambar.[10]
Mohammed Ali Abdul Razzaq 48 Bani Jamra 1 April 1995 shot dead
Mohammed Yousif Atteya[7] 28 Bani Jamra 1 April 1995 shot dead
Hussain Abdulla Al-Asheeri[7] 17 Al Dair 19 April 1995 shot dead
Nidal Habib Al-Nashaba[7][8][9] 18 Diraz 4 May 1995 shot dead
Saeed Al-Eskafi[7][11] 16 Sanabis 8 July 1995 died under torture
Mohammed Shehab Fardan[8] 10 Karzakan 25 May 1995 died after an explosion during clashes
Hassan Jasim Al-Hasawi 70 Noaim 7 Jan 1996 inhaled tear gas for prolonged period
Mohammed Hassan Taher 22 Jidhafs 6 March 1996 died in mysterious circumstances
Isa Hassan Qambar 29 Nuwaidrat 26 March 1996 executed
Fadhil Abbas Marhoon[12] 25 Karzakan 6 May 1996 Shot dead by a special military unit
Salman Al-Taitoon 28 Sanabis 7 May 1996 House exploded by special military unit
Ali Salman Al-Taitoon 3
Fadeela Al-Mutghawwi (Al-Taitoon) 23
Abdulamir Hassan Rustom 36 Sanabis 12 May 1996 Beaten to death during clashes
Mahmood Abdullatif Hussain 12 Sanabis 11 June 1996 tortured to death
Ali Taher[12] 17 Sitra 2 July 1996 shot dead
Zahra Ibrahim Kadhem[12] 54 Bani Jamra 23 July 1996 Beaten to death by security forces
Sayyid Ali Amin Mohammed[12] 19 Karbabad 17 August 1996 tortured to death
Bashir Abdulla Ahmad Fadhl[13] 27 Al Daih 20 May 1997 Beaten to death during an attack by security forces
Abdulzahra Ibrahim Abdulla[13][14][15] 27 Sanabis 6 June 1997 was beaten by the security forces that attacked the residents of Sanabis on 1 June.
Sheikh Ali Al-Nachas[13][14][15] (a blind person) about 50 years old Bilad Al-Qadeem 29 June 1997 During the morning, the well-known torturer Adel Flaifel summoned two persons and told them that Sheikh Al-Nachas was dead. Sheikh Ali Al-Nachas was detained in January 1996 and sentenced for one-year accused of delivering political sermons in mosques. Released in February 1997 only to be re-detained a short time later accused of delivering similar sermons in a local mosque. For 2–3 months he had been ill-treated in detention and reports have spoken of his health deterioration as a result of this ill-treatment. Two weeks prior to his death, his house was ransacked by the security forces and his wife was beaten severely inside her bedroom.
Abd Ali Jasim Isa Yousif 45 Noaim 8 August 1997 died in Salmanya Hospital as a result of the deterioration of his health in jail. Mr. Yousif was detained the previous year, became ill with hepatitis and the prison authorities prevented him from receiving the appropriate medical attention. In mid June, at a late stage, he was transferred to the Military Hospital and then o Saalmanya Hospital Wards 11 and 62 until his death on 8 August 1997.
Yaser Ibrahim Ali Sudaif 22 Sitra 22 September 1997 Yaser was detained in early 1995 and had suffered extreme forms of torture. One type of torture caused bleeding and resulted in the deterioration of his health. It was the insertion of a bottle in his back passage. He later developed cancer. His conditions became very serious two months ago. His death brings to mind the horrific treatment of prisoners under the hands of the merciless torture-officers headed by Ian Henderson.
Nooh Khalil Abdulla Al-Nooh[16] 22 Noaim 21 July 1998 was arrested in a raid on his parent’s house in Nuaim district (Manama) on Saturday 18 July. Few days later, the interior ministry telephoned the family of the martyr and ordered them to collect the dead body of their son from the mortuary. As the family went to receive the body of their dear son, the foreign security forces had already encircled the district of Nuaim. Nevertheless, the citizens penetrated the siege and about 1500 people attended the burial and funeral of the young man. The people photographed his body. It was full of torture, the kind of which is applied to all citizens taken into custody for interrogation. The tortured body carried signs of electric shocks, sever beating and drilling-penetrations. The people chanted for the freedom of the nation and called for the punishment of torturers.
Mohammed Al-Sayyah 28 Sitra 30 September 1998 For more than three years, Mr. Al-Sayyah had been in hospital suffering from incrementally increasing pain that ended with his death in Salmaya Hospital.

Mr. Al-Sayyah, a university graduate, was initially arrested on 5 April 1995 and tortured severely by a Jordanian officer named Mahmood Al-Akkori (so-called Abo-Fakhri) until 12 July 1995. His condition had deteriorated following the session of torture under Al-Akkori. He had been subjected to electric shocks and was severely beaten on sensitive parts of his body. He was then stripped naked and forced to sit on a bottle which caused him to suffer immensely after his release. Months later, he developed cancer and the pains continued with him until his death.

Hajji Ali Karim 60 Sanabis 12 February 1999 died after three years of suffering. Mr. Karim died in Salmania Hospital as a result of injuries he suffered when the security forces attacked a peaceful procession to commemoration of the Martyr Issa Qambar in March 1996.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Phil Davison (20 December 2006). "Sheikh Abdul Amir al-Jamri". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Country Profiles Bahrain" The Arab Center for the Development of the Rule of Law and Integrity Retrieved 2010-12-01
  3. ^ a b "Country Theme: Elections: Bahrain". UNDP-Programme on Governance in the Arab Region. 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-02-09. Retrieved 2011-02-09. 
  4. ^ Adam Curtis (11 May 2012). "If you take my advice - I'd repress them". BBC News. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Routine Abuse, Routine Denial: Civil Rights and the Political Crisis in Bahrain". Human Rights Watch. UNHCR. 1 January 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  6. ^ (Arabic) "عبدالوهاب حسين". Al Wasat. 30 April 2005. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Bahrain: A Human Rights Crisis". Amnesty International. 25 Sep 1995. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Bahrain Human Rights Practices, 1995". United States Department of State. March 1996. 
  9. ^ a b "Bahrain: Possible extrajudicial execution / fear of further killings: Nidal Habib Ahmad al-Nashaba". Amnesty International. 4 May 1995. 
  10. ^ "التحالف الوطني ضد الإرهاب يزور أسر شهداء الواجب". Bahrain News Agency. 23 April 2011. Retrieved on 23 June 2012
  11. ^ "Bahrain: Further information on death in custody / arbitrary arrests / fear of torture: Sa'id 'Abd al-Rasul al-Iskafi, secondary school student, aged 16-17". Amnesty International. 26 Sep 1995. 
  12. ^ a b c d "Bahrain Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996". United States Department of State. 20 Jan 1997. 
  13. ^ a b c "Human Rights Should Be High on Agenda in U.K.-Bahrain Talks". Human Rights Watch. 11 September 1998. 
  14. ^ a b "Bahrain: Deaths in custody/Fear for Safety". Amnesty International. 1 July 1997. 
  15. ^ a b "Amnesty International Report 1998 - Bahrain". Amnesty International. 1 January 1998. 
  16. ^ "Human Rights Watch World Report 1999". Human Rights Watch. 1999. "The most recent victim, Nuh Khalil Abdallah al-Nuh, twenty-three, was reported to be in good health when he was detained in the al-Na‘im district of Manama by members of the security forces on July 19. When his body was returned to his family for burial two days later, on July 21, it reportedly bore marks of torture." 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]