BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Middle East
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 19:21 GMT
Bahrain amnesty welcomed
Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa
The emir has pardoned hundreds of prisoners
Human rights activists have welcomed Bahrain's announcement of a general amnesty for political prisoners and detainees held on security charges.

Amnesty International said the authorities had now released 289 political prisoners and detainees held in connection with civil unrest that erupted in the mid-1990s.

"We welcome the release of political prisoners and detainees in Bahrain," Amnesty said in a statement carried on its website.

"We hope this will be followed by more positive steps, such as the amendment of the country's legislation to bring it into harmony with international human rights standards," it added.

Exiles included

A Bahraini Interior Ministry statement released on Monday said the amnesty covered 289 people in the Gulf state and 108 exiles who had already requested a pardon.

map

The announcement came ahead of a referendum on reforms next week, which include the restoration of a partly-elected parliament. The exiled opposition is urging people to vote against the proposals.

Amnesty International has campaigned for years for the repeal of certain laws in Bahrain, including state security legislation dating from 1974.

Those benefiting from the amnesty include four prisoners of conscience - Abd al-Wahab Hussain, Sayyid Ibrahim Adnan al-Alawi, Al-Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Hassan Msheima - who have been held without charge or trial for five years.

Royal pardons

Amnesty International says more than 1,100 political prisoners and detainees have now been released following pardons from the Emir of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa. He assumed power in 1999, following the death of his father.

Amnesty International says it has requested talks with government officials in Bahrain in March.

Anti-government unrest erupted in Bahrain in 1994, when members of the island's majority Shi'ite Muslim community pressed for political and economic reforms. Hundreds of Shi'ites were detained in the disturbances, which subsided in 1998.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
Country profiles: Middle East
BBC Monitoring
Country profiles are compiled by BBC Monitoring
See also:

30 Sep 00 | Middle East
Politics open up in Bahrain
20 Dec 00 | Middle East
Timeline: Bahrain
21 Dec 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bahrain
06 Mar 99 | Middle East
Bahrain's ninth al-Khalifa
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories