Profile of Sheikh Al-Jamri
Sheikh Al-Jamri was born in 1937 in the village of Bani Jamra. A son of a teacher of Quran, he learned his basic education from his father and state schools.
1962-1973: Studied Islamic theology and law at Al-Najaf Religious Institute. Authored several books which included: Islamic Duties, Islamic Teachings, Women in Islam, Poetry among others.
1973-1975: Was elected by the 14th regional constituency for the National Assembly. As an active opposition member, he lobbied vigorously against the imposition of the State Security Law which was issued by the Amir (ruler) in October 1974. The constitution specifies sharing the legislative power between the Amir and the National Assembly. Both branches of the legislature must mutually agree on any bill before it can become a statutory law. The Amir disregarded this, dissolved the elected parliament and suspended the important articles of the constitution in August 1975. The State Security Law empowers the Interior Minister to order the administrative detention of opponents for up to three years renewable. This law has been fully utilised to suppress the opposition since 1975.
1975-1977: As a religious scholar and active member of the Islamic Enlightenment Society he was involved in many cultural, social, charitable and educational activities for the promotion of religious teachings and social justice.
1977-1988: He accepted an offer to join the Religious Court as a judge. The religious courts are part of the Ministry of Justice which were established in the twenties to cater for resolving cases pertaining to personal affairs, such as marriages, divorces, inheritance and other community’s religious affairs. The courts are divided into two departments, one for the Shia community and one for the Sunni community, being the two major Muslim sects of Bahrain. Sheikh Al-Jamri was a member of the Shia court. <p. As a prominent figure in the society, his domain of activities extended beyond the courts to include all cultural activities, including peaceful opposition to the social injustices caused by the banning of the parliament and the rough implantation of the State Security Law.
In 1988, the Bahraini authorities decided to punish him for his open opposition. On 14 May 1988, the security forces surrounded and searched around the Mosque where Sheikh Al-Jamri leads the daily prayers. This was considered as a muscle show by the security forces. Although Bahrain Law does not allow the sacking of any judge, in July 1988 Sheikh Al-Jamri was suspended from duty. Then, in September both his son (Mohammed Jamil) and son-in-law (Abdul Jalil Khalil Ebrahim) were arrested, severely tortured, charged with anti-government activities and sentenced to Ten and Seven years imprisonment. Sheikh Al-Jamri himself was arrested on 6 September, but was released after few hours when people demonstrated instantly against the government action. The sentencing of both his son and son-in-law was a punishment substitution.
1988-1993: From his house and the neighbourhood mosque, Sheikh Al-Jamri resorted to his usual activities in addition to authoring books and forming educational circles in the mosque. He continued campaigning against government’s unjust polices.
In November 1992, he, together with five others, sponsored a petition calling for the restoration of the constitution and the dissolved parliament as stated in the constitution. The petition was signed by hundreds of leading personalities from all sections and tendencies in Bahrain’s society. The sponsoring six-people committee included Dr. Abdul Latif Al-Mahmood (a university professor and a leading Sunni figure) Mr. Mohammed Jaber Sabah (an ex-MP, a nationalist and a Sunni personality), Sheikh Isa Al-Joder (a Sunni religious scholar), Mr Abdul Wahab Husain (a Shia a personality) and Mr. Hamid Sangoor(a lawyer, a nationalist and Shia personality).
The petition was submitted to the Amir in mid November, but the latter disregarded it and went ahead on 16 December and appointed a 30-member Consultative Council. A meeting between the committee and the Amir ended with failure as the ruler insisted on the best option he sees for Bahrain is the appointed council. Furthermore, the ruler attempted to personalise the issue by asking the delegates if they distrusted the people he had appointed.
On 6th March, both Dr. Al-Mahmood and Sheikh Al-Jamri were invited to speak at Al-Khawajah Mosque in Manama, and present their views to the public in a peaceful way. The Bahraini authorities took the matter seriously and intervened to cancel the meeting. Both speakers were contacted and ordered not to attend the meeting, otherwise they would be arrested. Then, the security forces encircled the mosque, closed its gates and hung the walls with a prohibition notice. Sheikh Al-Jamri was invited for another meeting on 18th March at Mo’min Mosque in Manama. This time the security forces spared no time and rushed to arrest Sheikh Al-Jamri just before starting his journey towards Manama. Crowds of people gathered instantaneously and after heated exchanges, the security forces left the scene.
1994-1995: In October 1994, a petition was sponsored by 14 pro-democracy leader. These included Islamists (both Shia and Sunni), secularists, leftists and liberals (including for the first time a female university professor). Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri headed the list. The petition called for the restoration of the constitution and reinstatement of the dissolved parliament. Some 25,000 Bahraini citizens (male and female above 18 years of age) signed the petition which was supposed to have been submitted on 16 December 1994 (Bahrain’s National Day). However, the government escalated the political situation by arresting a leading cleric, Sheikh Ali Salman, who was instrumental in the campaign for collecting signatures from the public. People responded by demonstrating for his release. The situation intensified, and he government attacked demonstrators and killed many demonstrators, injured hundreds and arrested thousands. The situation continued to deteriorate as the government’s security forces embarked on a massive repression campaign that captured news headlines all over the world.
25 Spetember 1995: Released from jail together with other colleagues after striking a deal with the interior ministry to calm down the situation in return for initiating serious dialogue.
1 April 1995; Arrested 15 April 1995; Released on 25 September 1995, Re-arrested on 21 January 1996
On Saturday 1 April 1995m at 3.00 am, the village of Bani Jamra (where Sheikh Al-Jamri resides) was encircled by thousands of paramilitary forces. The neighbours of Sheikh Al-Jamri (around six to eight of them) were ordered to evacuate their houses within minutes or be sprayed with gunfire. The next neighbour (Mr Omran Hussain Omran) has had his two daughters injured, one of them in critical condition as a result of a bullet in the head. The husband of the latter, Mohammed Jaafer Yousif Atteya Twaig, 30 years old, was shot dead by a machine-gun. Later, the neighbours demonstrated, more were shot and up to fifty were injured. One of them already passed away, Mr. Mohammed Ali Abdul Razzaq, a 50 years old carpenter, who rushed to save his injured son, Asaad, but found himself the target of machine guns. The funeral of the two was prevented and only a handful of relatives were allowed in the cemetery for the last farewell. Following, these clashes, the family of Sheikh Al-Jamri was isolated inside their house and the first House Arrest in the history of Bahrain has begun. Together with Sheikh Al-Jamri, eighteen members of his family suffered two weeks of house arrest. On 15 April, the security forces changed tactics. Sheikh Al-Jamri was taken away to an unknown detention centre.
NICOSIA, Sept 5 (1995) (Reuter) Diplomats said the Gulf island’s Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Bin Khalifa al-Khalifa met jailed clergymen who were detained during the unrest which broke out in early December. The minister held talks with Sheikh Abdul-Amir al-Jamri, the most prominent of the jailed clerics, they sai. He also talked to Abdul Wahab Hussain, Sheikh Khalil Sultan, Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Hasan Mushaimaa. The last two were among 150 people released in mid-August, they added. The unrest, largely confined to Shi’ite villages close to the capital Manama, died down by April after a crackdown that involved the arrest of up 5,000 people at various times, including leading Shi’ite clerics.
The vast majority has already been freed. The residents said that Shi’ite opposition leaders had since held further talks with senior Interior Ministry officials in the small state dominated by Sunni Moslems. Jamri, 55, a former member of parliament, remains in jail, blamed for fanning the violence and arson that failed seriously to disrupt ordinary life in the state that is one of the main financial centres of the oil-rich Gulf region. He was jailed for criticising what he saw as the authorities’ excessive use of force against civilians in the anti-government unrest. At least 13 civilians and three policemen were killed in the protests that included demands for the revival of a parliament suspended 20 years ago, the release of political detainees and jobs for thousands of unemployed young people.
Diplomats said the government was seeking a pledge by Shi’ite leaders to an end to all protests and violence before it would enter a dialogue over their demands. "The government has told the opposition that there will be no negotiations or release of detainees without full security and stability in the country," one diplomat said. The government promised it would free all detainees by the end of September, allow deportees to return home and, at a later stage, talk to the opposition on other demands. The residents said 150 detainees would be freed this week and the rest by September 30 if agreement is reached. The exact number of those who remain in jails is not known. The two opposition figures freed in August flew to London and Iran last week for consultation with opposition leaders and were due back in Bahrain this week, they added. Bahrain has deported at least five clergymen including, Sheikh Ali Salman whose arrest in December sparked the unrest. A Shi’ite clergyman, apparently reflecting the new spirit of reconciliation, on Sunday night urged people to keep calm and shun violence to pave the way for reconciliation.
"Sheikh Abdul-Amir al-Jamri is thanking you for maintaining security. I also urge all of you to maintain self-restraint and security as agreed with the government," Sheikh Hassan Sultan told a Shi’ite gathering at a mosque in the capital Manama.
On 25 September 1995, Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri, member of the dissolved parliament was released after 6 months in detention. During his six months imprisonment he and four of his colleagues established an understanding with the interior ministry. The reconcilliation talks focused on two phases: the restoration of calm by releasing jailed leaders and about a thousand detainees, to be followed by the establishment of political dialogue to agree on an agenda for political reforms on the basis of the suspended constitution.
Sheikh Al-Jamri was released and tens of thousands of people all over the country started celebrating his release together with his colleagues. The government refused to abide by the agreement and instead re-launched attacks on peaceful gatherings that fueled the situation and ignited events which continues up until today. Sheikh Al-Jamri and his collegues together with many thousands of people were arrested or re-arrested in the first weeks of January 1996. What did Sheikh Al-Jamri stand for? The best answers can be taken from his speeches and statements made between the date of his release on 25 September 1995 to the date of his re-arrest on 21 January 1996.
Bahraini Opposition Leader Says Government Violated Agreement
Washington, Oct, 2 (COMPASS) – A Bahraini opposition leader said Monday that the "advisory council" is not a substitute for the dissolved parliament and said the government has violated an agreement it made with the opposition to release all detainees at once.
Sheikh Abdul Amir al-Jamri, who was released from prison on Sept, 25, said "the pro-democracy movement" in his country "will not accept any substitute for the parliament." On Sunday the emir, Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa, called for expanding the role of the advisory council and for the "improvement of legislative systems."
In a phone interview Jamri, a 55-year-old Muslim cleric, said the government had promised to release a large number of un-sentenced detainees at the time of his release.
Bahraini authorities released 70 people one day before Jamri was released release, and another 55 on the day of his release. The government released 25 prisoners over the weekend and 15 more today, Jamri said. He said the dialogue between the opposition and the government is contiuing but not the way "the opposition hoped."
The dialogue is taking place between the opposition and the security forces command, represented by a former British officer, Ian Henderson, Jamri said. Discussions with the interior ministry are also taking place, overseen by the Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al-Khalifa. COMPASS
: 23 October 1995 – 1 November 1995
Sheikh Al-Jamri and six of his colleagues staged a hunger strike to bring to the attention of the authorities the grave concequences awaiting the country if the interior ministry continues to violate human rights. When the jailed leaders started the dialgoue with their jailers in April 1995, they requested to be grouped together to facilitate the adoption of a common approach. The interior ministry demanded that a "letter of apology" must be addressed to the Amir to serve as a price for allowing meetings in the jail. Sheikh Al-Jamri and four colleagues agreed to write the letter as a compromise on the condition that the letter is written with an "if statemennt", meaning that they apologized "if" their activities caused hardship. The knew that the interior ministry wanted this letter as means of blackmail, but they preferred to give precedence for peaceful outcome with a sacrifice. The interior ministry did exactly what was expecte. When the opposition leaders went on hunger strike, the letter was circultaed to the press. The following statement was read by the opposition leaders in seven grand mosques in Bahrain (on 10 November 1995) by Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri, Mr. Hassan Mushaimaa, Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain, Sheikh Hassan Sultan, Sheikh Ali bin Ahmad Al-Jedhafsi, Seyed Ibrahim Seyed Adnan and Sheikh Hussain Al-Daihi:
"O’Great Muslim and Peaceful People: Emanating from the principle of trust and honesty with our people, as we have always been, we would like to inform you about the latest issues. We do this accurately and honestly. In the last few days, two important issues have surfaced. The letter we sent to the Amir (dated 24 April 1995) and our summon by security officials in the Central Region Police Headquarters on 5 November 1995.
With regard to the letter, we believe that this is a strong point in our favoure. We have delayed its publication not because of shame or fear, but we had waited for the appropriate time. We thank Allah that the distribution of this letter was made by persons (who were handed the letter by the government) imagining they can pressure us. They seem to ignor that the people suspect their motives and perceive them negatively since they have always stood against the will of the people. The solid political situation is now well-established and the people stand together in a magnificent Islamic and national unity….
Firstly, statements made before the investigating judge by us do not convict us and some of us never wrote a statement. Thus, we made no mistake and we had nothing to apologise for. This is what we said before and insist on now…
Secondly, the country underwent a severe crisis that destroyed resources and threatened their annihiliation. Blood was shed, thousands of youth (male and ) were arrested including children and elderly. Reciprocal violence escalated and we had to think a way out of the crisis. We found that the contentious issue hinged on bringing together two competing directions that have no common ground. One direction was the government is insistiting that its pride and supremacy must be upheld to preserv law and order, while the other direction was the people’s insistence that their legitimate rights must be attained. We took a step based on our religious, national and historic duties to treat matters in a selfless manner. We were sure of the trust between us and the people at large and we were sure of of our forthcoming steps. Our aim was and still is to stand by the legitimate demands of the people. We took the initiative and requested the government to provide us with the opportunity to calm down the situation provided the government alleviated the tension and offered support. We did exactly what we promised after our release and we established calm in the country within a record time. The latter demonstrated the willingness of the people for settling issues in peaceful and moderate ways… the government became reluctant in releasing the batches of prisoners as was agreed on Monday 14 August 1995. On that day, Sheikh Al-Jamri read a statement detailing the clauses of the initiative that contained the agreed programme. (The statement is available and was read in front of witnesses who included both the Interior and Labour Ministers as well as three judges and one businessman).
As a result of the government’s reluctance to release detainees and the resumption of political trials that included children, the crisis re-surfaced again. We went on hunger strike to alert the government to the critical situation.
Thirdly, the letter submitted to the Amir on 24 April 1995 was written after extreme insistence by interior ministry officials, and was written in a language and style that suited them. We accepted this because we found in it an opportunity to end the crisis in the country and restore calm and stability. Are we to blame for such a holy mission? The letter also showed that we had no ill-intentions against the government and every body is asking why did the government delayed its acceptance of our initiative until the 14th of August?
The letter was written with an "if" statement and its conditions did not materialise, hence it becomes void. The demands that we raised (release of political prisoners, halting political trials, return of forcible exiles and restoration of parliament) that were restated at the end of our hunger strike (1/11/1995) in front of one hundred thousand people turned into a referendum. We stand by all these legitimate demands.
We were summoned to the Central Region Police Headquarters in Isa Town on Sunday 5 November. We were verbally threatened by security officials despite the fact that we restored calmness to the country. We requested the security officials to submit these warnings and accusations in writing to ensure its legal status, and to enable us to defend ourselves. Also, the people were surprised to witness the provocative indications by the government to use force. This is at the time that the people declared their commitment to peaceful dialogue for attaining their rights, and at the time when we issued statement declaring our peaceful intentions to assure foreign communities and investors in the country.
We hope that the political leadership will intervene positively and put an end to this wrangling which is inflaming the crisis. We also call upon the people to stay calm and preserve stability".
17 Nov 95: Sheikh Al-Jamri invites the government to initiate reforms
Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri, delivered a statement in Al-Sadek mosque in Duraz, north-west of Bahrain, re-affirming the demands of the opposition. He called upon the government to initiate the process for political reforms. In his statement he said:
"Alongside the changes taking place in the region, we find ourselves committed to clarifying several issues to remove any misunderstanding. Some ill-intentioned newspapers attempted to mix issues in a desperate trick to damage the reputation of the people’s movement that is seeking political reforms and calling for legitimate demands. These newspapers can never win because:
Firstly, the trend of the people is indigenous and has nothing to do with external involvement. The trend is a result of the political situation and the accumulative problems resulting from it. The trend seeks public interests and aspires for effective involvement in a sound decision making process.
Secondly, The trend is a grass-root one and is open to all. It is not a partisan agenda. All sincere activists working for the good of the nation, whether Sunnis or Shia, Islamists or patriots, are involved without any significance to tribalism or sectarianism. The concerns and wishes of all tendencies are the same and all are united in their aims and means as have been stated in the Petitions of 1992 and 1994.
Thirdly, the trend adopts peaceful means and rejects resorting to violence, extremism or terrorism. All activities are aimed at achieving the just demands by serious and fruitful dialogue. The people responded positively and established calm since the first day of our initiative (mid-August). They will continue to preserve stability because their trend is peaceful and seeks reform. The government can assist the people by reviewing and achieving these demands.
Fourth, the aims of this trend are moderate and objective. The trend does not aim to topple the regime or de-stabilize it. Indeed, it aims for security and stability and aims at the re-activation of the constitution, restoration of the parliament, the release of all political prisoners and return of exiles. The trend of the people is not a naive one. The people understand and are aware that some of the aims can be achieved instantly and some require time for preparing necessary provisions.
The question raised is: Do these aims represent extremism or terrorism? The answer must be No. This is the real picture of the nation’s trend. Why don’t we see and positive response from the respected government? Is this because of the false coverage of some ill-intentioned newspapers? Why is the government creating more barriers with the people? We have stated once and again that we are prepared for dialogue and we demanded it. Up until when will the doors remain shut? Up until when will the deployment of riot police continue? Why do these police units stop a bus of students and beat them?
We witness sound political moves in the countries of the region aimed at development and stability. In one country we witnessed the removal of state- control on media and a promise for local council elections; in another we witnessed the abolition of state security law, and in a third country an amnesty for all political prisoners and exiles was declared. These types of actions are bound to enrich the trust between peoples and governments, and these actions consolidate the sincere efforts aimed at developing the countries. We have a hope that the Amir would issue an amnesty for all prisoners without distinction, allow exiles to return home, officially open the door of dialogue and hence reach the stage for achieving political demands, the most important of which is the parliament".
The tens of thousands of people who attended the gathering in Duraz raised slogans at the end of the statement confirming their peaceful and legitimate demands. The statement was also read in other major mosques in the country.
24 Nov 95: Sheikh Al-Jamri offers his advise for ending the crisis and sends an open letter to GCC Ministers
Sheikh Abdul Amir al-Jamri, delivered a speech offering his advise to the government for ending the crisis in Bahrain. The speech was delivered at Al-Sadek grand mosque in Duraz, north-west of Bahrain, where tens of thousands of people started gathering earlier in the day. Sheikh Al-Jamri stated tfollowing:
"Any nation may experience the types of shocking events and hence sound vision is needed to find correct solutios. Any ruler facing complex and worsening economic and political situations needs advise. Such an advice must be sincere and free from cheetng and political games, so that reality, even if it were bitter, is fully divulged. Such an advise must also be in the interest of the public even if personal interests are lost. The offering of advise is the responsiblity of clergy, thinkers, journalists and other people possessing influence, views or opinoins. These people should live amongst the peolt to feel the pain and problems and be able to to criticise without fear. On this basis I refer to te follwing issues:
A. We hear these days that some proposals are being talked about by some people whome we believe are acting with true feeling of their responsibilities. But sincerity on its own is not adequate. We believe any inititaive must be based on the follwing principles, if it were meant to succeed.
1. Broadness: Any solution must be comprehensive enough to include all tendencies and sections of he society. Any initiative lacking this factor is a partial and incomplete, and is therefore rejected. We heard that there exists some moves to improve the living conditions of the Shia community. Such moves are being led by some businessmen. This is a short-signted initiative becuase it transforms the demands for political reforms to merely living conditions. Such moves are also bound to create divisions amongst the nation that has been campaigning for unified clear objectives.
2. The other element that must be considered in any initiative is the constitutional factor. Any solution lacking constitutional cover is incomplete. We hear that the respected government intends to widen the scope f the Consultative Council. Such intention is appreciated but for it to receive popular support the members of the such body must be elected by secret ballot anf that such a body must possess the authorities of an independent legislature. The people have always demanded reforms and they have declared that they seek effective participation in the progress of the country.
B. Open letter to GCC defence and interior ministers: In the past few days, Bahrain hosted two meetings. One for the GCC interior ministers and the other for the defence ministers. These meetings reflect the concern of the official for preserving the security and stability of the region which are the aims and desires of the rulers and the ruled. I would like to say the respected ministers:
1. We are peaceful people. We are not anarchic or violent as can be proven by all our steps that were summarised by the Petitions of 1992 and 1994 as well as our initiative for calming the situation and stoppig all forms of violent protests. We achieved all this with sincerity and calmness was established.
2. Our demands are peaceful and are aimed at the interests of the country, the ruler and the ruled. We demand the release of political prisoners, return of exiles and the initiation of dialogue for solving the political demands, the most important of which is the parliament. We assure the respected ministers who are welcomed guests of their second country, Bahrain, that we are proceeding with our peaceful process and distancing ourselves from violence and anarchy.
C. Solidariy with the families of political prisoners: As a result of our visits to the families of the prisoners and according to the information we receive from incide the jails, I find myself committed to state the follwing:
1. The prisoners are living in misery inside small and closed rooms without any mercy. Detainees have gone on hunger strike appaealing for slight improvements. The respnse to their please has been further tightening on conditions and more hardship to them.
2. Some prisoners are loosing their parants (death of dear ones) while suffering the pains of separation ans hardships of imprisonment.
3. Some prisoners have spent nearly 14 years away from their families and children.
4. Some prisoners were jailed during the pregnanccies of their wives. They now have children and some of these children have grown-up. Other children have reached the stage of marriage without their fathers being around.
5. Many families of prisoners are living in extreme conditions while their sole bead-winners are in jail.
I did not want to state the above to attract eye-tears. I only wanted to indicate how bad the feeling amongst the public is, especially as we approach the court session on 27 November. If the court decides to approve the execution verdict then the dangerous situation will get more complicated. I request HH the Amir to practice his consititution authorities and closed this chapter of crisis by stopping the political trials and issuing orders for releasing all political prisoners.
I call on the people to gather in mosques during the coming days, especially Suday night (before the court sessiion of Monday) to pray to Allah to save the lives of the political prisoners."
1 Dec 95: Sheikh Al-Jamri calls on the riot police to stop attacking schools and re-confirms the peaceful nature of the opposition
Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri delivered a strong and prudent talk at his weekly Friday sermon at Al-Sadek mosque in Duraz, north-west of Bahrain. he stated the following in front of tens of thousands of people:
"I congratulate you, the Great Peaceful People, on the following:Firstly, your strong unity has foiled all plans of those ill-intentioned people. You affirmed to those who attempt to divide us that we are one, solid and united nation.. You affirmed that we are politically aware and games played some people have no hope of success in undermining our Islamic and national unity.
Secondly, You stood honourably with steadfastness and controlled the situation despite all intimidation and challenges. Let’s continue this discipline and self- control, and let’s march forward.
Thirdly, you calmness and patience have foiled those irresponsible provocative measures.
Fourth, your insistence on the demands, despite all circumstances, is based on your believe in the just and legitimate nature of these demands.
Fifth, your peaceful and civilised behaviour in search of dialogue has eliminated all those claims that accused us of sabotage and terrorism. You have raised the question in the minds of everyone: Where is sabotage and terrorism if these people are seeking peaceful dialogue? Are we saboteurs and terrorists because we demand peaceful and civilised dialogue? Or because we demand the restoration of the parliament so that the voice of the people is taken into consideration and so that we can contribute top the development of our beloved country? Did the submissions of the first and second petitions mean we are terrorist and saboteurs? Did our initiative (when in jail) to calm down the situation mean we are terrorists and saboteurs? Did our hunger strike mean we are terrorists? Are these means used by terrorists and saboteurs?
Sixth, we promise the group of martyrs who fell on the way to attaining these demands by peaceful means and we promise God that we will always stick with honesty to their sacred blood. This is achieved through the continuation of our peaceful process in search of dialogue for the attainment of our legitimate and just demands…"
"We observe what goes on these days and the escalation of events with concern. Despite the fact the movement of the nation is a peaceful one, and is seeking dialogue; despite the clarity of the objectives of the movement; and despite the facts that all this is achieved in the shadow of great sacrifices in terms of martyrs, prisoners and exiles, despite all this we see how some elements are desperately attempting to deviate the process and engage it in violence.
1. I refer to the incidents that took place in Al-Jaberyah and Sheikh Abdulla Schools. What happened to justify the expelling of great number of students? What happened to justify the intervention of riot police for beating and jailing the students? Wheredoes this lead us to? Emanating from my responsibilities and to solve the problem by dealing wit its roots I say the following:
A. Students should stay calm and establish an understanding with administration of each school to solve problems they face.
B. That the school administration should listen to the complaints of the students and should treat the problems with an educational and parent-attitude.
C. Riot police should withdraw from schools, because their presence by the gates is agitating the situation.
D. Those expelled students should be returned to their schools and those detained should be released. If the problem is to be resolved then these students must not lose their year of study.
2. Summoning and detaining people: What is the aim of summoning and detention? Is there a national interest in doing this? We never heard that there was any violence committed for these people to be detained. Are these arrests based on suspicion and doubts? We did mention now and again that we are sincere in what we say and the people back our peaceful process and we never ever aim for violence. There is no need for all the intimidation and provocation?
3. Political trial of last Monday: Last Monday we all went through a critical stage. The trial acquitted four persons who were previously sentenced to five years. The third defendant had his sentence reduced from life to five years while those who had ten years sentence had theirs reduced to five. This gives us a hope that the upper court (Mahkamat al-Tamyeez which is the top court, above the appeal court, with authority for quashing sentences) which will look into the case would quash the sentences.
Without doubt that the reduction in sentences and acquittal of others is a good thing, but the circumstance we pass through are not compatible with the other sentences. The hundreds of prisoners who remain in jail, the exiled and the problems that accumulate every day means that if -God forbids- the upper court confirms the death sentence, then the situation will be complicated and the issue of the martyrs will surface [so that those responsible for killing them are brought to justice].
I again request HH the Amir to use his powers for the interests of the country and order the release of all political prisoners and allow exiles to return home. This will open a new chapter and will consolidate the relationship between the people and the government. Wouldn’t these great people deserve such daring steps?
4. Distortions of ill-intentioned newspapers; We regret to read some ill- intentioned newspapers continuing their distortions. Despite the fact that we are peaceful and our demands are civilised and legitimate; despite the independent nature of our reform and objective movement; despite all these factors; we read in the ill-intentioned newspapers the depiction of our people with anarchy and violence. They accused us that we adopt armed struggle and they claim that the Bahrain opposition is training its members with Hizbolla of Lebanon. They say this in an attempt to negatively influence the support we receive from the world for our peaceful and civilised movement. We hope that these newspapers would respect their profession and stop these stupid attempts".
15 Dec 95: Sheikh Al-Jamri commemorates the first anniversary of the uprising and sends an open letter to the Amir
Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri, delivered his Friday sermon at Al-Sadek mosque in Duraz, north-west of Bahrain. Tens of thousands of people gathered in anticipation of the speech that precedes the National Day of 16 December.
"God Almighty said in Quran, Sura 51, Verse 55: But remind them, for reminding benefits the believers. Every matter that influences the nation is a subject for reminding ourselves so that we seek the right path. The aims of the reminder should be concerned with the following:
1. Reminding for documenting history: The nation has roles to play and through its history many events take place. These might be war or peace, victory or defeat, sweat or bitter, and all must be documented for a nation that does not remember its history may neither have a past nor a future.
2. Reminding for reform: The reminder must also aim for solving problems and for planning the future. Mistakes of the past should not be repeated. Previous view-points of the ruler and the ruled ought to be studied and re-assessed.
Those whose blood was shed did not die in vain. They suffered because they raised legitimate demands. Those men and women who went to jail and those who were forcibly-exiled suffered because they raised just demands. These demands are the release of political prisoners, the return of exiles and restoration of the National assembly. These are the demands and the people want to achieve them through dialogue.
These demands are compatible with those demands raised by the seven judges who recently submitted a letter to His Excellency the Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs demanding the formation of supreme judicial council and demanding the independence of the judiciary. All these voices are demanding political reforms.
The people’s movement is spontaneous and raises legitimate and rational demands. The people have chosen the means of dialogue for achieving their aims, despite the fact that their blood was shed (by security forces) and despite the many who were detained and forcibly-exiled. For all these factors, it is no surprise that such a movement gained the support of many in the outside world. For example:
- In the US, some congressmen wrote letters (to the Government) requesting the restoration of the constitution and the fulfillment of popular demands.
- In Britain, parliamentarians submitted petitions supporting our aims and demands.
- In our sisterly country Kuwait, 96 personalities comprising parliamentarians, businessmen, professional, felt that their duties and concern for security of the country and the region necessitated the submission of a petition to HH the Amir calling on him to release political prisoners, to allow exiles to return home and to restore parliamentary life.
O’Great Peaceful People: let’s always remember those who stood with us and let’s thank them, because so they deserve.
3. Reminding for action: remembering these events ought to result in a better understanding and ought to provide us with lessons for steadfastness, truthfulness, hope for success, insistence, continuation and preparedness to sacrifice for the right path. The aim however is not to agitate for anarchy but for solving the problems and preventing their re-occurrence.
For the aims stated above, may I remind of the following events on the (first) anniversary of the popular reform movement:
First: The sacred blood that was shed last year is the greatest proof of the depth of the crisis in the country. We ought to commemorate the martyrdom of those whose blood was shed so that such thing may not to re-occur. It is not in the interest of the nation, both the ruler and the ruled, for the crisis to return.
Second: We must remember the young and the old, the men and women who were packed in miserable jails without crime, and yes, we must remember those many hundreds who are still suffering in these inhuman conditions. They suffer torturing conditions in cells that do not protect them from winter or summer. They are tortured if they keep quit and they are tortured if they go on hunger strike demanding the improvment of their conditions. Above all these things, there is someone sentenced to death. Would it be wise to leave this painful episode without a solution.
Third: Let’s remember those who were forcibly deported when the crisis peaked. Let’s remember Sheikh Ali Salman, Sheikh Hamza Al-Deiri, Seyyed Haider Al- Setri, Sheikh Adel Al-Shu’ala and the others who were forcibly-exiled under the pretext of agitating the situation. Many others have fled the country fearing for their safety and have since been separated from their parents, wives and children. Hundreds are experiencing the painful exile conditions and are waiting the day they return home with dignity. Untiwhen will they remain in exile?
Fourth: Let’s remember those who were dismissed from their positions not because they failed their functional duties but because they raised the popular demands and refused to back down. Let’s remember. Dr. Abdul Latif Al- Mahmood, Dr. Monira Fakhro, Saeed Al-Asbool, Hussa Al-Khumeiri, Aziza Al- Bassam and others. These people deserve respect not dismissal.
Fifth: Let’s remember the students who were expelled from their class rooms. This crisis must no be forgotten. There is no justification for the riot police to storm schools, beat students and detain them. There is no justification for expelling the large number of students. Any problem, major or minor, can be controlled and solved without the intervention of police force.
Let’s remember, the martyrs, the prisoners, the exiled and the dismissed, so that the crisis might be solved. Matters can not be solved by force. The use of force (by government) will only exacerbate the situation and enflame events. If there is a solution then we need to control nerves and utilize logic rather than muscles. The peaceful and dialogue-based approach is the means by which security of the country can be achieved. There is no wise person who believes that calm and stability come as a result of provocative measures and detentions. There is no wise person who sees the use of force is the way to solve the problems of the country and end its crisis.
An open letter to HH the Amir:
Emanating from religious and national duties, and abiding by the principles of reminding the nation for its benefit, and on the occasion of the National Day, I request the Amir to look into the nation’s demands that have been brought to his attention. These are the release of (political) prisoners, the return of exiles and restoration of the National Assembly. By doing so, the Amir would assist the nation to reach its aims and would fulfill the aspiration of the people.
22 Dec 95: Statement issued by Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri
"A nation with clear objectives and just demands has the capability to withstand shock waves. Yes, our nation entered into an experience that resulted in the falling of martyrs, the jailing of youth (men and women), the exiling of people and the fleeing of others, and yet our demands have not been obtained. We must not succumb to despair, we must not lose hope and we must not retract. Do not say that there is no use in continuing on this coarse with the government that does not listen to any thing but violence. Violence is not our means. We should not also say that we sacrificed blood while our sons in jails or in exile and that we should retract. Turning back is not in our dictionary.
The people who raised the just demands and volunteered their youth for achieving these objectives, such people can not be defeated, and their demands will certainly be achieved. It is a matter of time. Steadfastness and patience are pre-requisite factors for attaining the objectives. Our belief in the correctness of our approach gives us the strength of will and provides us with hope. We do not bear any ill-feeling against anyone and we are not the enemies of the government, despite the shedding (by the government) of blood, despite imprisonment and despite exiling of our people. We will never succumb or turn-back until we achieve our targets. We will remain sincere to our martyrs, to our jailed youth and to our forcible-exiles. Our objectives will remain to be the release of all political prisoners, the return of exiles, the activation of the constitution and the restoration of parliament.
There are students who have been dismissed and not yet returned to their classes while some of them remain in detention. The ministry of education doesn’t seem to care. Why is all this? Aren’t these students your children? Why do you ignore their case? I understand that parents are circulating a petition with this regard to be submitted to the minister of education. I support this and any other peaceful action. Educational establishments have problems and these should not be referred to security authorities. I suggest the formation of a committee of parents to follow-up on this issue.
As for freedom of expression, I refer to Article 23 of the constitution which states "Freedom of expression and research is guaranteed. Every person is free to express his/her views and is free to publish such views in accordance with the law". We see the clear violation of this constitutional article against persons expressing their views on certain political issues. In the past few days, both Mr. Ahmad Al-Shamlan (lawyer) and Mr. Hafedh Al-Sheikh (journalist) were made to pay 500 dinars ($1500) each, after expressing their views. Similarly, Sheikh Hassan Sultan was detained and made to pay 500 dinars, pending trial, allegedly for his sermon last Friday. Before these people and after them many others were detained and made to pay 500 dinars for expressing their views. Where are we heading to in this country? Does this mean that any person with a different point of view should prepare 500 dinars before expressing his/her views?
We expected something special on the National Day. Something special to solve the problems related to freedoms, related to freeing of prisoners, related to the return of exiles. Some releases took place while detentions were continuing. Every morning we wake-up to hear that this person and that person have been detained. Do these people who declared their peaceful approach deserve such treatment?"
Street clashes ignited after a halt of 4 months
As a result of the aggressive attitude of the Bahraini security forces, street clashes resumed today (29 December 1995) in Bahrain after a halt of four months. Units of riot police encircled the house of Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri in Bani Jamra, north-west of Bahrain and blocked all exits and entries. Thousands of youth starting pouring in the area defying the siege and at around 11.30 am, the security forces started attacking the gathering youth using batons and tear gas. Demonstrations erupted in Duraz around 1.00 pm and the security forces deployed rubber bullets together with tear gas. The traffic on Budayya Highway is tense and dangerous.
Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri and his colleagues issued a statement about the degenerating situation calling on the government to abide by the constitution of the country and by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. They said:
"Our beloved Bahrain enters the second year of the political crisis while the government continues its NO response to all legitimate and just demands. No solutions are looming in the horizon as the government continues to dislike dialogue with the people. The situation is increasingly becoming critical and stagnant as a result of the detentions and violations by the riot police and as a result of interrogating symbolic figures of the opposition to clamp down on freedom of opposition. What happened to Mr. Ahmad Al-Shamlan, Mr. Hafedh Al-Sheikh and Sheikh Hassan Sultan as a result of expressing their views are examples of the attack on freedom of expression. The stubbornness of the authorities and their determination to confiscate differing views resulted in the closure of places of worship as in the case of Noor mosque in Duraz and Momin mosque in Manama.
All these negative moves have created despair in the hearts of the people who have now given-up hope that the government may contribute any positive step toward their legitimate demands. The government is not giving a chance for peace or hope and as a result we see violence re-surfacing. The government has abused the calm that was established as a result of the opposition’s initiative and proceeded with clamp downs and settlement of scores with the opposition. Hopes faded after the Amiri speech on National Day that the crisis may be ended by consolidating the relationship between the people and government to initiate a new phase in nation-building under just, equal, secure and stable environment, so we enter the 21st century with all pre- requisites to face challenges.
Despite all this, we sincerely call on the government to listen to the demands of the people for reactivating the constitution, restoring the parliament that was abolished in 1975, forming the supreme judicial council (in accordance with the constitution), allowing freedom of expression, guaranteeing the safety of educational and worship places, offering opportunities for work to those capable and qualified, releasing all teenagers and political prisoners and allowing forcible-exiles to return home. We see that this is the only way to achieve security and stability in the country".
Renewal of the uprising, many injured including Al-Jamri
Bahrain witnessed last night the renewal of uprising as a result of the security forces attempts to crack-down on opposition gatherings. In Nuaim, a district of Manama, the riot police attacked a mass gathering (5 Januaryy 1996) at around 9.20 pm (6.20 GMT), without prior warning. Mr. Hassan Mushaima’a was delivering his speech when the attacking forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Clashes erupted and about a hundred people, including Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri, took refuge in a nearby small house. Half an hour later, the security forces stormed the small house and clashed with the people inside.
Sheikh Al-Jamri was heart when police started beating people in random and began hand-cuffing them. Seyed Ibrahim Al-Alawi (a prominent clergy) was beaten to exhaustion. Al-Jamri attempted to discuss matters with the riot police but these could not speak Arabic. Their chief (A Bahraini by the name Isa Al-Qattan) later appeared on the scene and Sheikh Al-Jamri warned him of the grave consequences and asked for the release of the hundred people who were hand-cuffed. After give and take, this group was released while many others were taken prisoners.
Sheikh Al-Jamri then saw a person outside the house lying face- down in a critical condition. The person was given water and recovered slightly. Asked what happened, the young man (in his night wear) explained that he had nothing to do with the gathering when his house was stormed and he was pulled out from his bed. He suffers from hear conditions and requested to be taken back to his wife who was worried about what happened.
Scores of people were detained and many injuries were reported some of them serious. Seyed Ibrahim Al-Alawi was summoned today to the intelligence department. A loud explosion was heard this morning (6 January 1996) in Sanabis area. The situation is now bound to escalate amid threats from the security forces that they are preparing for a "blood bath".
12 Jan 96: Sheikh Al-Jamri addresses a mass gathering
Security forces attack grand mosque in Qafool
The security forces attacked the grand mosque in Qafool (a district of Manama, the capital) and clashed with people heading for prayers in the evening (around 5.30 pm, 15.30 GMT). This is the second time security forces attack the mosques. On Friday evening, Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri leads prayers in the grand mosque. Two weeks ago, the chiefs of Manama and Khamis police stations threatened Sheikh Al-Jamri after his refusal to abandon praying in the mosque.
Earlier in the day, at noon, Sheikh Al-Jamri addressed a mass gathering in al-Sadek mosque in Duraz, northwest of Bahrain. He pointed out that
((The nation as a whole is not only responsible for participation in the political process but also in observing the process and correcting mistakes. It is the right of the nation to freely express views and opinions for that purpose. I have followed what the Minister of Information stated to the BBC when asked about closure of mosques. He said "we are an Islamic Government and mosques are open and we do not close them. But mosques are for prayers and we reject their use for agitation". Would the minister excuse me to let him know that two weeks ago on Thursday night , we were in Zain al-Abedin mosque when riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets. Wouldn’t this be considered a violation of a sacred place? Then, on that night and from 7.30 pm to the next day 2.00 pm both Bani Jamra and Duraz (villages) were besieged together with my house. Aren’t these acts considered to be disturbing peace for citizens and de-stabilizing for the country? Last Friday the grand mosque in Qafool was besieged, I had been prevented from attending, the people who headed to the mosque were fired at using rubber bullets and tear gas. Was this because of an agitation?
Would the minister excuse me to ask: What is meant by agitation? Why is it now that we are termed "agitators"! Now after we established calm in the country! This is a fact acknowledge by the security department and by those observing events. How come that now we are accused to be agitators? Do you mean that calling for reactivation of constitution and restoration of parliament by peaceful means, do you call these agitation? We have asked for dialogue and we still call for it. I believe that attacking villages and mosques is the true agitation for violence.
What is happening to our local press? Why are they silent? The country underwent a crisis that cause the shedding of blood, the imprisonment of hundreds, the deportation of others and all people lived under fear. Where was our press? We never saw the press reporting the submission of a historic petition in 1992 calling for restoration of the parliament! Wasn’t there another petition in 1994 signed by 25,000 people? Why aren’t attacks on mosques reported?
Sheikh Mohammed Al-Rayyash was arrested last Friday in front of the people in the mosque. Why is such a distinguished person arrested? What is the crime that he committed? Is calling for constitutional reforms a crime? We demand the release of Sheikh Al-Rayyash and all other political prisoners)). The thousands of people attending the gathering chanted slogans in support of the raised demands.
21 Jan 96: Re-arrest of Sheikh Al-Jamri
Sheikh Al-Jamri was arrested on 12.00 pm (mid-night) on Sunday 21 January 1996 after a house arrest that started on Saturday, 20 January 3.00 am.
Sheikh Al-Jamri, is a member of the National Assembly which was dissolved by the ruler of Bahrain in August 1975. Last April, Al-Jamri was put under house arrest for 2 weeks before being transferred to a detention centre on 14 April. His detention ended on 25 August 1995 after a deal had been struck with the security forces to release him and several other leading figures of the opposition. In return for calming down the situation, the government would start a dialogue process on political rights. Soon after their release, opposition leaders calmed down the situation. However, the security forces turned-back on the deal and refused to release the rest of a thousand detainees (about 450 remained) by end of September. Moreover, many people, amongst them children, were arrested and put on trial, thus creating a tense atmosphere.
Sheikh Al-Jamri and his colleagues appealed to the government to stop these provocative measures but to no avail. The situation was about to explode in October when seven of the opposition leaders went on hunger strike for ten days. On 1 November, they ended their hunger strike and Sheikh Al-Jamri again appealed to the government to salvage the situation and stop persecuting and intimidating people. Events developed further when security forces attempted to close down mosques and for this purpose many gatherings were attacked and dispersed. The government tightened its grip and many people were detained in a sweeping operation. Clashes re-surfaced towards the end of December and sounds of explosions returned after a halt of several months.
The arrest of Sheikh Al-Jamri is critical because it indicates that the struggle for political reforms in Bahrain will be stagnated. The ruling establishment failed to resolve matters by force in the past and there is no rationale bresorting to force again. Events of the past few days indicate that the situation will escalate despite threats by the army that it will step in to oppress the movement.
The House of Lords, UK
Monday, 10th February 1997.
Bahrain: Shaikh al-Jamri
Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty’s Government:
Whether they will take any action in support of the appeal by the Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers for the release of Judge Abdul Amir al-Jamri in Bahrain, and in particular, whether they will ask the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to visit Bahrain to ascertain, if possible, how long the government intend to keep the judge and other persons in detention without charge or trial.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): We have seen the statement issued by the Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers. Our Embassy in Bahrain are already making enquiries about Shaikh al-Jamri. We welcome the recent visit to Bahrain by the International Committee for the Red Cross and understand from the UN Centre for Human Rights that the Working Group is considering a visit to Bahrain.
Sheikh Al-Jamri: "Jailed for calling for reform"
Amnesty International’s Campaign to Defend the Defendors of the Universal Declaration of Human Righ, December 1997
Shaikh ‘Abd al-Amir Mansur al-Jamri is a well-known religious scholar and writer in Bahrain. He was an elected member of the National Assembly, which was dissolved in 1975 by the Amir (ruler) of Bahrain. Since then Shaikh al-Jamri has been a determined campaigner for the restoration of the National Assembly. The right to participate in government is guaranteed by Articles 19 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
Hundreds of Bahrainis, including Shaikh al-Jamri and eight other prominent Shi’a Muslim clerics, were arrested in January 1996 following anti-government protests. The majority was held in incommunicado detention and were at risk of being tortured.
The January 1996 demonstrations were prompted by the security forces closure of a number of mosques where prominent Shi’a clerics had been calling on the government to restore the National Assembly. The protests were part of a series of demonstrations, which have swept Bahrain.
Shaikh al-Jamri was one of 14 people representing different religious tendencies who in 1994 organized a petition signed by 25,000 people cafor the restoration of the National Assembly. The government responded by clamping down heavily on all opposition, and in the months that followed protests escalated, some involving violence.
Several thousand women, men and children were arrested and held without charge or trial. Torture and ill treatment of detainees became widespread and systematic. Today, over 1,000 people are detained in connection with anti-government protests, the majority without charge or trial.
In April 1995 security forces cordoned off the area where Shaikh al-Jamri lived, forced nearby residents to leave their homes and arrested him and 18 members of his family. The security forces shot dead two unarmed people protesting about the arrests.
When the families of the dead men tried to mourn them in public, they were stopped by the authorities. Shaikh al –Jamri was held incommunicado, without access to the outside world, until September 1995. His daughter, ‘Afaf al-Jamri, was detained and reportedly beaten, in violation of Article 5 of the UDHR prohibiting torture and ill treatment.
Prisoner of conscience Sheikh ‘Abd al-amir Mansur Al-Jamri was put in prison because he asked for political reform. He has been denied rights that the world has said should never been violated.
Ask for his immediate and unconditional release.
- His Highness Sheik Issa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa, Office of His Highness the Amir, P.O.Box 555, The Amiri Court, Rifa’a Palace, Bahrain
- His Excellency Sheikh Muhammed Bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa, Minister of Interior, P.O.Box 13, Al-Manama, Bahrain
Credits: Most of this document appeared in the information database of the Voice of Bahrain website.