Bahrain declares state of emergency for first time in its history

Bahraini security forces drove demonstrators from Pearl Square in Manama on Wednesday (March 16th). [Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters]

Bahraini security forces drove demonstrators from Pearl Square in Manama on Wednesday (March 16th). [Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters]

  • COMMENT

    4

  • Print this article
  • increase decrease

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain issued a royal decree declaring a state of national emergency that began Tuesday (March 15th) and will last three months. It is the first decree of its kind in the kingdom's history.

The decree authorised the commander of the Bahrain Defence Force to take the necessary measures to implement it. The state of national emergency follows several days of political turmoil and a deteriorating security situation which reached its peak last Sunday when demonstrators clashed with security forces on a highway near the capital's financial district.

Bahrain requested support from the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), and 1,000 troops from Saudi Arabia were deployed from the Peninsula Shield Force. The UAE also sent 500 security officers.

Ahmed Farhan, secretary-general of the National Foundation for Human Rights in Bahrain, said the decision to implement a state of national emergency is in accordance with the provisions of the 2002 constitution on maintaining security and order.

A 12-hour curfew was imposed at 4 p.m. in areas where clashes occurred, including Pearl Square and the financial district, according to Al Jazeera. Three people died and hundreds were injured when security forces clashed with demonstrators in the square Wednesday. Three police officers were also killed, according to wire reports.

The interior ministry also announced that a member of Bahrain's public security was killed Tuesday after being intentionally run over by a car driven by protesters.

Demonstrations were scheduled for Wednesday, but Manama's streets were mostly empty after the curfew was imposed, according to wire reports. The country's health minister resigned in protest as did many judges, according to the BBC.

The decision to impose a state of national emergency is the least severe action that could be adopted during exceptional situations in the kingdom, after a state of war and martial law, according to Farhan.

Farhan said a state of national emergency differs from war and martial law, noting that "the king may, according to this article, authorise the commander in chief of the defence force to take the necessary measures to restore security and order in the kingdom", and pointed to the inability of the regular security forces to control the breakdown in security.

Farhan said, "The move came a little late, especially after the state lost its authority, and provocative acts increased, including a departure from the norm, to the extent of enforcing civil disobedience, and schools, universities and even houses of worship were disrupted."

Farid Ghazi, a Bahraini lawyer, said the state of emergency is a lower form of martial law and includes basic procedures to preserve the rights of citizens and enforce standard laws, accompanied by special military measures to protect Bahrainis.

Ghazi said the decree is considered exceptional and is based on a legitimate principle that the "safety of the state is above the law". He supported the move.

The national emergency is limited to three months, but Ghazi confirmed this is not binding as it "can be revoked if the security situation is restored even if that happens in a period not exceeding two days".

He said, "In the event of continued chaos which would necessitate an extension of the state of emergency to more than three months, both chambers of the National Assembly, the Council of Representatives and the Consultative Council, will vote on an extension."

Abdul Jalil Khalil, head of the parliamentary al-Wefaq bloc, which withdrew from the House of Representatives, condemned the declaration of a state of emergency and repeated the opposition's stance against the entry of GCC military forces into Bahrain.

Khalil accused the Bahraini security forces of waging what he termed "a brutal assault on civilians", pointing out that the opposition appealed to the international community to protect protesters in Pearl Square.

ADD A COMMENT (COMMENT POLICY) * DENOTES REQUIRED FIELD

Test
  • READER COMMENTS

    سلام

    2012-8-14

    Many internal conflicts took place during the last period in brotherly Bahrain whether they were recent conflicts between the Bahraini Government and the Bahraini people, or conflicts which arose between the different classes of the Bahraini people. This has led to the spread of instability and turmoil as well as the disintegration of security. Everything has been ruined. There are many steps that should be undertaken so that Bahrain becomes once gain the strongest Arab country and the most prosperous. The first move consists in establishing a sound dialogue between the leaders of the Bahraini Government and all the classes of the Bahraini people. We should grant them attention and respect. It is not wise to face a person’s anger with neglect. This will only increase his anger and lead him to the point of explosion. We must also hold general conferences where there is discussion and positive debate. People and officials meet during these conferences; we will have speakers on behalf of the Bahraini people and others on behalf of the Government. They will then discuss all the conflicts talking place between both parties in certain points and try to discuss each of them separately and develop solutions and logical proposals to solve these issues and listen to each party. Persuasion is the judge.

  • gorom

    2011-7-29

    This is so that criminals will not commit their crimes of robbery, kidnapping and other cowardly criminal acts, including booby-trapping cars and striking residential places and other evil acts. I call for lifting the curfew altogether, to give an opportunity for the Bahraini people to breathe, because the curfew has caused them to have a very difficult psychological condition, because Bahraini citizens want there to be trust in the Bahraini streets, in order to get rid of those committing terrorist acts. Citizens have the right to stay out late outside their homes with their friends and relatives. I advise this, in order for there to be freedoms available to Bahraini society. Freedom comes from the security and safety established in the city. I pray to God for the situation in Bahrain to be better than before. Lifting the curfew is very important, so the Bahraini people will feel that safety is more established. I want the citizens to be patient in demanding that acts in contradiction to laws will not happen. I advise the Bahraini people to be honest in their demands without tension.

  • naser

    2011-7-29

    Setting a curfew is one of the most important acts and plans put in place by the Bahraini government, in order for the Bahraini people to live in lasting peace and security. The cowardly terrorists want to use this opportunity to further their interests. The hours of the curfew cannot be reduced, because the cowardly terrorists will use the opportunity of people’s going out late at night to violate their comfort and stir up worry among the people and steal their happiness. I will never encourage this duration of the curfew; instead, there must be constant keenness on the protection of the innocent citizens. It should be lifted in the first place because citizens are fed up with this curfew, as they want to sleep with some ease of mind without worrying about being late or worrying about the acts of terrorists which would lead us to lose a lot. In my personal opinion, development could take place in Bahrain to bring safety and security to citizens, so that they would be more reassured about their safety and the safety of their children. God is the guarantor of success. I agree with those who say that lifting the curfew is one of the most important things the Bahraini people want, for the sake of the safety of the citizens. I insist that the government respond to this demand quickly, so that the Bahraini people will be at ease, and for life to be restored to become better than it has been.

  • صادق نضال

    2011-3-26

    Bahrain is currently going through a period of demonstrations and instability that is threatening the situation in the Gulf region. The Bahraini government must respond to the citizens, because this will ease tension between the Bahraini government and its people. The relationship between the government and the people must be based on dialogue. In all countries, governments cannot continue in office while the people reject them, and the events in Egypt have proven that. Bahrain is going through the same situation. Therefore, the government in Bahrain must show more interest in the future of the country in order to predict the consequences if it does not respond to the demonstrating citizens. As far as I am concerned, the Bahraini government must adopt democratic policies. In fact, they must not attack the citizens who are demonstrating in the streets, so that the citizens can somehow trust the government, and the opposition and demonstrating youth can hold a dialogue and start negotiations. Then, the government must hear their opinions and demands and discuss them in a democratic way. We do not want to see Bahrain go through more problems. Therefore, we hope that these measures will be implemented soon.