Bahrain. In September, the country’s largest regime-critical group, al-Wefaq, interrupted the national reconciliation dialogue that had been held since February. According to Countryaah, the immediate reason was that one of the group’s leaders, Khalil Marzouk, had been arrested accused of advocating terrorism. He was later released. The opposition was also critical of the government not participating as a direct negotiating party but instead moderating the dialogue.
Clashes between police and regime-critical youths, most with Shiite backgrounds, demanded a number of casualties. In and around the capital Manama, young men burned car tires and threw fire bombs at the police in protest of the king’s domination. The police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and lead shot. In July, the Bahrain Human Rights Center (BCHR) published a report documenting, among other things, five days. 60 cases of extrajudicial arrests, 140 gunshot wounds and 150 house searches without permission.
In July, following a proposal from Parliament, King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa decided on major strikes in the penalties for terrorism. capital punishment in some cases. In August, the king issued a demonstration ban in Manama with the aim of stopping the protests that the opposition had planned for mid-month. A number of oppositions were sentenced during the year to prison sentences of various lengths, among them 50 young Shi’a Muslims from the so-called February 14 coalition, which in September was sentenced to between 5 and 15 years in prison.
The country’s economy was suffering from problems. In the spectacular port district of Bahrain Financial Harbor (BFH), which was completed in 2009, a large part of the office space was still vacant. The tourists stayed away because of the unrest.
The death of Emir Īsā ibn Salmān al-Khalīfa (November 1999) and the succession of his son Hamad ibn Īsā al-Khalīfa marked a decisive watershed in domestic political life. In the very first years of his reign, the new emir seemed to want to give a democratic turn to the country first with the immediate release of some opposition leaders, and then with the pardon granted to numerous political prisoners. Even more significant changes characterized the first months of 2001. In February a referendum, in which women were called to vote for the first time, submitted for popular approval a National Action Charter which heralded important democratic reforms (establishment of a constitutional monarchy, birth of a freely elected assembly on a party basis, separation of powers).
- According to AbbreviationFinder.org, Manama is the capital city of Bahrain. See acronyms and abbreviations related to this capital and other major cities within this country.
In the following months, the success of the Charter, approved by 98 % of the voters, was underlined by the release of all political prisoners, the return from exile of Shiite and opposition religious leaders, and the abolition of torture and exceptional laws against freedom of the press. However, 2002 brought to a halt in the dialogue between the opposition and the emir, who in February had proclaimed himself king of the new constitutional monarchy of Baḥrein; the oppositions contested his decision to add to the Elective Assembly (40 representatives), a new Consultative Council nominated by the director, again of 40 members. After the holding of the first municipal elections (May), in October the first legislative elections since 1975 saw the success of moderate Sunni candidates, a moderate success of radical Islamists (9 seats) and, above all due to the boycott of the opposition, a low turnout (53, 2 %). Between 2004 and 2005 the rumors about a new repressive wave became more insistent (resort to torture, indiscriminate arrests, censorship).