Translation of the Petition of 1922 (Elite Petition)
Submitted to the Amir of Bahrain on 15 November 1992
His Highness Sheikh Issa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa, the Amir of the State of Bahrain.
Peace be upon you,
In a historic moment, your highness had approved the Constitution of the State of Bahrain on 12.11.1393 A.H. (6 December 973) after it had been discussed and approved by the Constituent Assembly which you had called for it to be established according to Law No. 12/1972 of 9.5.1392 A.H.
At the time you were recalling Bahrain's history in the context of Arabism and Islam, and were anticipating with faith and determination, a future based on consultation and justice, rich in participation in carrying out the responsibilities of government and administration, ensuring freedom and equality, and confirming fraternity and social solidarity, as stated in preamble of the constitution. This constitution laid down the basis of popular participation in public rights and duties on a strong footing based on the principles of consultation as outlined by our Islamic religion, and on the principles of justice, freedom and equality which have always been deep-rooted in the Islamic and human civilisations.
That process was a pioneering change targeted by your highness in order to establish a modern system to govern the state of Bahrain and a cultural achievement which will be remembered by history for your highness.
And although the dissolution of the National Assembly on 26 August 1975 by the Amiri decree No. 14/1975 according to the authority which article 65 offers to your highness, the article itself emphasises the need to call for the election of the new assembly within a period not exceeding two months from the date of the dissolution. Otherwise the dissolved assembly would retain its complete constitutional authority, that article 108 of the constitution prevents the suspension of any of its articles except in the case of martial laws within the limits outlined by the Law. The dissolution of the Assembly did not take place in these circumstances.
According to this and taking into account the local, regional and international changes during the recent years, and in view of the new direction of the international will to create a new world order, therefore the situation requires - if article 65 is not implemented - the call for electing a new national assembly by direct and free election process as determined by the constitution. This is so that the state may exercise its democratic system according to Article 1.d which states that: 'the system in Bahrain is democratic, in which sovereignty is for the people who are the source of all powers, and that the exercise of power must be as outlined by this constitution'.
And in order to institutionalise confidence, and mutual respect between the state and the citizens and due to our keenness on bringing together the efforts of the people of this country, the rulers and the ruled in order to achieve the progress and prosperity of this country, and in order to liberate the energies of every citizen to participate in the process of social and economic development according to article 1.e of the constitution which states that: 'the citizens have the right of participation in public affairs and enjoyment of political rights, stating with the right of election, according to this constitution and conditions and circumstances outlined by the Law'. We the undersigned present to your highness this letter motivated by the feeling of our Islamic and national responsibility, and our legitimate rights according to article 29 of the constitution which states that: 'every person has the right to communicate with the authorities in writing and with his own signature', and because your highness is the head of the state according to article 33.a of the constitution, requesting your highness to issue orders for election of the national assembly as outlined by section 2 of chapter 4 of the constitution.
The national assembly as a legislative and constitutional one does not contradict what has recently been mentioned regarding the intention of the government to form a consultative council to widen the sphere of its consultations regarding what the government wants to do. The consultative council does not replace the national assembly as a constitutional and legislative authority.
We hope your highness will realise this popular demand in which there is good for every one. Please accept our thanks and respect
Translation of the 1994 Petition (Popular Petition)
His Highness, Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa
The Amir of the State of Bahrain, may God save him
It was an historic and successful step that you took to establish the pillars of the modern State of Bahrain. Following independence, you endorsed the Constitution on 6th December 1973 and enabled the holding of the legislative election. This was a leading edge in the modern history of Bahrain and that of the region. It has confirmed your belief in the importance of the popular participation on the basis of Shura (consultation) and justice for the fulfillment of the requirements demanded by the cultural progress of our modern country, and as demanded for laying down the foundation of its institutions with full determination and confidence in its posterity and their ability to shoulder responsibilities for the advancement of the country, peace and stability on the basis of fraternity, solidarity and social cohesion.
Since the dissolution of the National Assembly on 26th August 1975 until today, our homeland had suffered immensely. As a result, grave consequences occurred due to the interruption of the pioneering democratic process undertaken by you when you inaugurated the first legislative session of the elected National Assembly. Your people were keen to provide the opportunities for enriching the experiment of National Assembly.
The consequences after the dissolution of the National Assembly by the Amiri decree No. 4/1974 has necessitated opening the dialogue with your Highness on the future of our homeland. A group of citizens submitted the (first) petition to your Highness on 15/11/1992 which summarized the demands for restoring the National Assembly in accordance with the Constitution.
As your highness is aware, the Consultative Council which you had appointed by an Amiri decree does not fill the existing vacuum due to the closing down of the most important and only legislative institution. The reality we now face dictates that we will fail our duty if we do not speak-out frankly to you. Your wise leadership witnesses the incorrect circumstances that our country is passing through amid the changing regional and international environment while the constitutional institution is absent. Had the banning of the National assembly been lifted, it would have enabled overcoming the negative accumulations which hinder the progress of our country. We are facing crises with dwindling opportunities and exits, the ever-worsening unemployment situation, the mounting inflation, the losses to the business sector, the problems generated by the nationality (citizenship) decrees and the prevention of many of our children from returning to their homeland. In addition, there are the laws which were enacted during the absence of the parliament which restrict the freedom of citizens and contradict the Constitution. This was accompanied by lack of freedom of expression and opinion and the total subordination of the press to the executive power. These problems, your Highness, have forced us as citizens to demand the restoration of the National Assembly, and the involvement of women in the democratic process. This could be achieved by free elections, if you decide not to recall the dissolved parliament to convene in accordance with article 65 of the Constitution which states:
'The Amir has the right to dissolve the National Assembly by an Amiri decree in which the reasons of the dissolution are explained. The dissolution of the Assembly for a second time and for the same reasons is not allowed. If the Assembly was dissolved, elections for a new Assembly must be held within a period not exceeding two months after the date of the dissolution. If elections were not held during this period, the dissolved Assembly would restore its complete constitutional powers, and shall meet immediately as if the dissolution has not taken place, and shall continue its functions until a new Assembly is elected.'
We are confident and hopeful that you will realize the just demands of this petition. We have aimed at encouraging the completion of the structure of our young state, and at offering assistance to your wise leadership on the basis of justice, consultation and faith in the strong foundations which were laid down by our Islamic religion and which had been adopted by your blessed wisdom as stated in the Constitution of our dear Country.
May God keep you for us and grant you health and strong will. May God guide us all to what is good.
Translation of 1995 Petition, Organised by Leading Bahraini Women (April 1995)
Your Highness Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa
Amir of the State of Bahrain
Salutations from Bahrain's women,
Motivated by our well-founded confidence in Your Highness' kindness and by our strong belief in the importance of communicating our views to You through the democratic dialogue that You have on several occasions emphasized Your adherence to, we have the honour in presenting to Your Highness this statement to express our heightened concerns over the circumstances which our beloved country Bahrain is going through.
We were alarmed as Bahraini citizens by the recent escalation of incidents and the use of the language of violence instead of the language of dialogue to confront the incidents and resolve the conflict so that we were no longer able to ignore what was occurring around us daily especially with our awareness that the continuation of violence would not lead to solving the problem but to exacerbating it. The continuation and spread of violence will touch everyone sooner or later. Experiences of other nations have proved that violence is a vicious circle that generates resentment, deepens hatred and entrenches violence and in the end we will all be losers and our beloved country will be inflicted with wounds that will not heal for a long time.
While we confirm our total belief that sabotage and destruction of public installations is completely unacceptable, we also understand that this could be an expression of the absence of dialogue channels and a reflection of the depth and magnitude of the build-up of suffering and the deterioration in economic and social conditions for a wide segment of the people of Bahrain especially the unemployed amongst them; conditions which need urgent solutions to confront the current developments.
We were also alarmed as citizens and mothers by the practices of the security and anti-riot force towards the citizens who dwell in the villages; practices which ranged from insults and severe beatings of young men, women and children to killing defenceless demonstrators including pupils and university students with bullets.
While we categorically and emphatically reject acts of sabotage, we do not consider them sufficient justification for the use of bullets by the security forces, especially against children and defenceless citizens. We are confident that the esteemed Bahraini Government will not rule out means of dialogue and dealing with demonstrators in order to resort to reasoning with them with bullets especially since the bulk of the acts of sabotage that the demonstrators are accused of committing is not legally punishable by death.
Your Highness, we believe that with your wisdom you are not unaware that progress in dealing with the developments requires breaking the circle of violence and only the stronger party with its wisdom and rationality and not with its weapon is capable of it. We are completely confident in Your abilities in getting our country out of this testing predicament to maintain national unity.
On this basis, we present to Your Highness this statement requesting your Highness' personal intervention to break the circle of violence and open the door to dialogue to consider with Your established wisdom ways of dealing with the situation which may be achieved through the following means:
Bahrain's Citizens and Mothers
Aziza Hamad Al-Bassam, Programme Producer, Bahrain Broadcasting
Dr. Khawlah Mohammed Matar, Journalist
Dr. Monira Ahmed Fakhro, University Professor
Ayisha Khalifa Matar, Director, Modern Handicraft Industries
Dr. Fadheela Taher Al-Mahroos, Pediatrician
Jaleela Sayed Ahmed, Lawyer
Wedad Mohammed Al-Masqati, Lawyer
Fawziya Al-Sitri, Employee
Dr. Sabeka Mohammed Al-Najjar, Employee
Sawsen Ibrahim Al- Khayat, Employee
Hussah Al-Khumairi, Director of continuous Education
Mariyam Abdullah Fakhro, Employee
Khadijah Ali Masoud, Employee
Sheikha Mubarrak Hamad, Employee
Nadia Al-Masqati, Accountant
Farida Ghoulam Ismael, Employee
Koukab Abdullah Abu-Idris, Employee
Radhia Khalil Ibrahim, Teacher
Muna Abbas Mansoor, Employee
Leila Ali, Employee
(PLUS THREE HUNDRED OTHER WOMEN).
© The author and Nordic Society for Middle Eastern Studies. Archived 29.3.99