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33. Bahrain (1971-present)

 

Pre-Crisis Phase (August 15, 1971-December 12, 1981): Bahrain formally achieved its independence from Britain on August 15, 1971.  Elections for a Constituent Assembly were held on December 1, 1972, and Independents won 22 out of 22 contested seats.  Emir Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifah convened the Constituent Assembly in December 1972, and a new constitution was approved by the Constituent Assembly in June 1973.  The new Constitution went into effect on December 6, 1973.  Legislative elections were held on December 12, 1973, and Independents won 30 out of 30 contested seats in the National Assembly.  Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Sulman al Khalifah resigned on August 24, 1975, but he formed a new government on August 25, 1975.  Sheikh Isa bin Sulman Al Khalifah, Emir of Bahrain, dissolved the National Assembly on August 26, 1975.

Crisis Phase (December 13, 1981-May 23, 1982): Government police arrested 60 members of the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain (IFLB), a Shi’ite Muslim group based in Tehran, on December 13, 1981. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) secretary-general and the Qatari foreign ministry condemned the rebellion in Bahrain on December 14, 1981.  The governments of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Jordan condemned the rebellion, and expressed their support for the government of Bahrain on December 14, 1981.  The governments of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia signed a mutual security agreement on December 19, 1981. The government banned Iranians from the country, and declared martial law on January 8, 1982. The government tried 73 individuals (60 Bahrainis, 11 Saudi Arabians, one Kuwaiti, and one Omani) for subversion beginning on March 13, 1982, and all of the defendants were convicted and sentenced to prison on May 23, 1982.

Post-Crisis Phase (May 24, 1982-December 4, 1994): Government police arrested three members of the IFLB for subversion on December 23, 1987. The Emir appointed a 30-member Consultative Council in January 1993.

Crisis Phase (December 5, 1994-February 15, 2001):  On December 5, 1994, Sheikh Ali Salman, a Shi’ite religious leader, was arrested for demanding the restoration of the National Assembly, resulting in clashes between the Sheikh’s supporters and government police.  Two individuals were killed in clashes between Shi’ite Muslims and government policemen on December 17, 1994.  One Shi’ite Muslim was killed by government police on December 20, 1994.  One Shi’ite Muslim was killed by government policemen on January 12, 1995.  Two Shi’ite Muslims was killed by government policemen on January 25-26, 1995.  Sergeant Major Ibrahim Rashed Saidi was killed in the village of Nuwaidrat on March 23, 1995.  Two Shi’ite Muslims were killed by government policemen on April 1, 1995.  Sheikh Abdul Amir Jamri, a Muslim religious leader, was arrested by government policemen on April 1, 1995.  One Shi’ite Muslim was killed by government policemen on April 19, 1995.  One Shi’ite Muslim was killed by government policemen on May 4, 1995.  On July 4, 1995, Issa Ahmad Hassan Qambar was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of the Sergeant Major Ibrahim Rashed Saidi.  Sheikh Abdul Amir Jamri, a Muslim religious leader, was released from prison on September 25, 1995.  On September 26, 1995, Amnesty International (AI) condemned the government of Bahrain for human rights abuses against civilians.  Sheikh Abdul Amir Jamri, a Muslim religious leader, was re-arrested on January 21, 1996. Seven individuals were killed in a bombing o a restaurant in Sitra on March 3, 1996.  Issa Ahmad Hassan Qambar was executed by the government on March 26, 1996.  On March 26, 1996, Amnesty International (AI) condemned the government for the execution of Issa Ahmad Hassas Qambar.  Three Shi’ite Muslims were killed by government security forces on Sanabis on May 7, 1996.  On June 3, 1996, the government announced that it had arrested 80 individuals for their involvement in a rebellion. The government of Bahrain accused Iran of supporting the rebels. Iran denied the accusation, and offered to mediate between the government and the Shi’ite opposition on June 7, 1996. The League of Arab States (LAS) expressed support for the government of Bahrain on June 4, 1996. The governments of the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, U.S., and Egypt condemned the rebellion, and expressed their support of the government of Bahrain on June 5, 1996.  On July 6, 1996, three Shi’ite Muslims were sentenced to death for the restaurant bombing in March 1996.  One Shi’ite Muslim was killed by government police on July 2, 1996.  The Emir appointed a new 40-member Consultative Council on September 28, 1996.  One Shi’ite Muslim was killed by government security forces on May 20, 1997.  Eight opposition leaders, including five individuals living in exile in Britain, were convicted and sentenced to prison terms on November 22, 1997.  Shi’ite Muslims clashed with government policemen in Manama on November 25, 1997.  Sixteen Shi’ite Muslims were sentenced to prison terms for anti-government activities by the State Security Court on June 28, 1998.  Ten Shi’ite Muslims were sentenced to prison terms for arson and sabotage by the State Security Court on November 16, 1998.  Five Shi’ite Muslims were sentenced to prison terms by the State Security Court on January 31, 1999.  The trial of Sheikh Abdul Amir Jamri began on February 21, 1999.  Sheikh Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa, Emir of Bahrain, died of a heart attack at the age of 64 years on March 6, 1999.  Hamad bin Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa became the Emir of Bahrain on March 6, 1999.  On June 6, 1999, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa, Emir of Bahrain, pardoned and ordered the release of more than 300 individuals imprisoned for anti-government activities since 1994.  Sheikh Abdul Amir Jamri, a leading Shi’ite opposition leader, was convicted of spying and inciting unrest, and he was sentenced to ten years in prison on July 7, 1999.  On July 8, 1999, the New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the government of Bahrain for the sentencing of Sheikh Abdul Amir Jamri.  Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Khalifa, Emir of Bahrain, pardoned and ordered the release of Sheikh Abdul Amir Jamri on July 8, 1999.  Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Khalifa, Emir of Bahrain, pardoned and ordered the release of 200 individuals imprisoned for anti-government activities since 1994.  Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Khalifa, Emir of Bahrain, announced an amnesty for political prisoners in Bahrain on February 5, 2001.  The National Action Charter was approved with 98 percent of the vote in a referendum on February 14-15, 2001.  The National Action Charter established a constitutional monarchy, an independent judiciary, and an elected lower chamber of the parliament.  Nearly 40 individuals were killed during the crisis.

Post-Crisis Phase (February 16, 2001-February 13, 2011):   Hamad bin Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa, Emir of Bahrain, proclaimed the Kingdom of Bahrain with a constitutional monarchy on February 14, 2002.  Local elections were held on May 9 and May 16, 2002, and Islamist candidates won more than half of the 50 local council seats.  Legislative elections were held on October 24, 2002, and Independents won 40 out of 40 seats in the National Assembly.  Several political parties, including the National Democratic Action Association (NDAA) and the Islamic National Accord Association (INAA), boycotted the legislative elections.  Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa was re-appointed as prime minister on November 11, 2002.  Following clashes between protesters and government police, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Khalifa, King of Bahrain, dismissed the Interior Minister, Sheikh Mohammad bin Khalifa al-Khalifa, on May 21, 2004.  Government policemen arrested six alleged Islamic militants on June 22, 2004.  The six individuals were released without charges on June 23, 2004.  Seven individuals, including the six alleged Islamic militants arrested in June 2004, were arrested on suspicion of planning bombings on July 14, 2004.  Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Khalifa, King of Bahrain, pardoned and ordered the release of 14 individuals on November 21, 2004.  Legislative elections were held on November 25 and December 2, 2006, and the main Shi’ite Muslim political party, Al Wefaq, won 17 out of 40 seats in the National Assembly.  Independents won eleven seats in the National Assembly.  Overall, pro-government Sunni Muslim candidates won 22 out of 40 seats, and Shi’ite Muslim candidates won 18 seats in the National Assembly.  Sheikh Abdul Amir Jamri, a leading Shi’ite opposition leader, died at his home at the age of 69 on December 18, 2006.  Shi’ite Muslims rioted in Bahrain on December 19-23, 2007, resulting in the death of one individual.  Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Khalifa, King of Bahrain, appointed the crown prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa as Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the army on January 7, 2008.  Shi’ite Muslim protesters clashed with government policemen on March 13, 2009.  Legislative elections were held on October 23 and October 30, 2010, and the main Shi’ite Muslim political party, Al Wefaq, won 18 out of 40 seats in the National Assembly.  Independents won 17 seats in the National Assembly.  On October 28, 2010, twenty-five Shi’ite Muslims, including Hassan Muchaima who was the leader of the opposition Haq movement exiled in Britain, went on trial for plotting to overthrow the government.

Crisis Phase (February 14, 2011-present):  Several thousand individuals demonstrated for political reforms in Bahrain on February 14, 2011, resulting in the death of one demonstrator.  One individual was killed in clashes with government policemen on February 15, 2011.  On February 15, 2011, the main Shi’ite Muslim political party, Al Wefaq, announced that it had suspended participation in the National Assembly.  Thousands of protesters occupied the center of the capital Manama (Pearl Square)  beginning on February 16, 2011.  Government security forces attempted to disperse protesters from Pearl Square in Manama on February 17, 2011, resulting in the deaths of at least three protesters.  On February 18, 2011, President Barack Obama of the U.S. condemned the government of Bahrain for the use of violence against peaceful protesters.  Following clashes with protesters the previous day, government security forces withdrew from the center of Manama on February 19, 2011.  On February 19, 2011, the government of Britain condemned the government of Bahrain for the “unacceptable violence” used against protesters.  On February 21, 2011, one individual died from wounds suffered during protests three days earlier.  Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Khalifa, King of Bahrain, pardoned and ordered the release of 308 political prisoners on February 22, 2011.  On February 27, 2011, President Barack Obama of the U.S. expressed support for the government’s “commitment to reform.”  Seven opposition groups rallied against the government in Manama on March 1, 2011.  Government policemen clashes with protesters in Manama on March 13, 2011.  On March 14, 2011, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) deployed peacekeeping personnel, including some 1,200 military personnel from Saudi Arabia and 500 policemen from the United Arab Emirates, to assist the government in maintaining order and to protect financial institutions and energy installations.  Government security forces clashed with protesters in Manama on March 16-17, 2011, resulting in the deaths of several protesters.  On March 15, 2011, the Iranian government condemned the government of Bahrain for permitting the “interference” of GCC military personnel in the country.  Following the deaths of two individuals during clashes on March 15, 2011, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Khalifa, King of Bahrain, declared a state of emergency in the country.  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appealed for peaceful negotiations on March 15, 2011.  Government security forces attacked protesters occupying Pearl Square in Manama on March 16, 2011, resulting in the deaths of five protesters and two government policemen.  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the use of violence by the government and protesters on March 16, 2011.  On April 28, 2011, seven Shi’ite Muslims were convicted in a military court for the killings of two government policemen the previous months; four were initially sentenced to death and three were sentenced to life imprisonment.  Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Khalifa, King of Bahrain, lifted the state of emergency on May 31, 2011.  On June 22, 2011, twenty-one Shi’ite Muslims were convicted of “plotting to overthrown the government” and sentenced to prison terms; eight were sentenced to life imprisonment and 13 were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to fifteen years.  On June 29, 2011, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Khalifa, King of Bahrain, established an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate alleged human rights abuses during the recent crisis.  Representatives of the government and Shi’ite Muslims began negotiations on July 2, 2011. One individual was killed in clashes between government security forces and protesters in the village of Sitra on September 1, 2011.  One individual was killed in clashes between government security forces and protesters in Manama on October 6, 2011.  Pending the outcome of the commission of inquiry investigating human rights abuses in Bahrain, the U.S. government decided to delay a planned $53 million arms sale (44 armored vehicles and several hundred TOW missiles) on October 19, 2011.  On November 23, 2011, the independent Commission of Inquiry issued a report regarding alleged human rights abuses committed since February 2011.  One individual was killed in clashes between government security forces and protesters in the village of Sitra on December 31, 2011.  One individual was killed in clashes between government security forces and protesters in the village of Diraz on April 21, 2012.  On May 11, 2012, the U.S. government decided to resume some arms sales to Bahrain, although it would maintain a hold on armored vehicles and TOW missiles.  One individual was killed in clashes between government security forces and protesters in Muharraq on August 18, 2012.  One government policeman was killed in a bombing in the village of Al-Akr on October 18, 2012.  The government banned protests on October 30, 2012.  Two foreign workers were killed in bombings in Gudaibiya and Adliya on November 4, 2012.  On November 21, 2012, the London-based NGO Amnesty International condemned the government of Bahrain for human rights abuses.  Three individuals, including one government policeman and two protesters, were killed in clashes between government security forces and protesters in the village of Daih on February 14-15, 2013.  Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa was appointed as Deputy Prime Minister on March 11, 2013.  On March 18, 2013, seventeen Shi’ite Muslims were sentenced to prison terms for the attempted murder of four policemen in 2012.  On government policeman was killed in the bombing of the police station in Sitra on July 7, 2013.  Khalil Marzook, assistant secretary-general of the main Shi’ite Muslim political party, Al Wefaq, was arrested by government policemen on September 17, 2013.  Shi’ite Muslim opposition groups suspended their participation in talks with the government on September 18, 2013.  Fifty Shi’ite Muslims were convicted and sentenced to prison terms on September 30, 2013.  One individual was killed in an explosion in the village of Bani Jamra on October 22, 2013.  Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of the main Shi’ite Muslim political party, Al Wefaq, was arrested by government policemen on December 28, 2013.  Sheikh Ali Salman was charged with “incitement to religious hatred and spreading false news likely to harm national security” on December 29, 2013.  The government suspended national reconciliation talks with opposition groups on January 9, 2014.  One government policeman was killed in a bombing in the village of Dair on February 14, 2014.  On February 19, 2014, seven Shi’ite Muslims were convicted of killing a policeman in February 2013; one of the men was sentenced to death and six men were sentenced to life imprisonment.  Three policemen, including one police officer from the United Arab Emirates serving in the GCC peacekeeping mission, were killed in a bomb attack in the village of Daih on March 3, 2014.  The governments of Britain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Russia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and the U.S. condemned the bomb attack on March 4, 2014.  The GCC foreign ministers and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the bomb attack on March 4, 2014.  The government of Pakistan and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton condemned the bomb attack on March 5, 2014.

[Sources:  Agence France Presse (AFP), October 24, 2010: Amnesty International (AI) press release, March 26, 1996; Associated Press (AP), July 8, 1999, October 25, 2002; Bahrain News Agency (BNA), March 4, 2014; Banks and Muller, 1998, 67-70; Brecher and Wilkenfeld, 1997, 652-653; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), November 8, 1997, November 22, 1997, November 26, 1997, January 3, 1998, June 28, 1998, November 16, 1998, January 31, 1999, February 21, 1999, March 6, 1999, May 31, 1999, June 6, 1999, July 7, 1999, July 8, 1999, November 17, 1999, September 30, 2000, February 5, 2001, February 14, 2001, February 16, 2001, February 14, 2002, May 9, 2002, May 17, 2002, September 3, 2002, October 7, 2002, October 23, 2002, October 25, 2002, November 11, 2002, January 1, 2003, January 2, 2003, January 3, 2003, May 22, 2004, June 22, 2004, June 23, 2004, July 14, 2004, November 21, 2004, June 19, 2005, April 26, 2006, November 25, 2006, November 26, 2006, December 3, 2006, December 12, 2006, December 18, 2006, December 23, 2007, January 7, 2008, February 28, 2008, December 17, 2008, March 23, 2009, April 3, 2009, August 15, 2010, September 4, 2010, October 23, 2010, October 24, 2010, October 28, 2010, November 1, 2010, February 15, 2011, February 17, 2011, February 18, 2011, February 19, 2011, February 22, 2011, February 25, 2011, February 28, 2011, March 13, 2011, March 14, 2011, March 15, 2011, March 16, 2011, April 28, 2011, May 8, 2011, June 1, 2011, June 22, 2011, July 2, 2011, September 1, 2011, October 7, 2011, January 1, 2012, April 21, 2012, May 11, 2012, August 18, 2012, September 7, 2012, October 3, 2012, October 19, 2012, October 30, 2012, November 5, 2012, November 21, 2012, January 22, 2013, February 14, 2013, February 15, 2013, February 22, 2013, March 11, 2013, March 18, 2013, June 25, 2013, July 7, 2013, September 17, 2013, September 18, 2013, September 30, 2013, September 30, 2013, October 23, 2013, December 28, 2013, December 29, 2013, January 9, 2014, February 14, 2014, February 15, 2014, February 19, 2014, March 3, 2014; Degenhardt, 1988, 19-20; Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), December 14, 1981, December 15, 1981, December 16, 1981, January 5, 1988, January 21, 1988, February 13, 1996, June 5, 1996, June 7, 1996; Jessup, 1998, 52-53; Keesing’s Record of World Events, February 26, 1982, December 1994, January 1996, March 1996, June 1996; New York Times (NYT), June 18, 2002, March 14, 2011, May 12, 2012, June 28, 2011, November 23, 2011; Reuters, December 6, 1994, June 6, 1999, July 8, 1999, October 25, 2002, June 28, 2011, March 15, 2011, May 8, 2011, October 19, 2011, May 11, 2012, March 3, 2014.]