march 5, 51 years on
March 5 (1965) was a defining day in the history of this island. An immortal ushering of days of bullets, blood and martyrs, indelible in a nation’s memory, and its cry for dignity and freedom.
"كان يوما نابضا من شهر مارس، حين صاحت نخلة حرّى، ظمئنا"
March 5 was also the name of a monthly underground publication, which for years set the standards for dissident political journalism in the region.
March 5 (1955) was as well the curious date of a memo written by Sir Bernard Burrows, the then British Chief Political Resident of the Gulf (1953-1958), addressed to the Foreign office in London, detailing a blueprint for what he saw as needed reform steps, in response to the tumultuous rise and demands of the opposition’s “High Executive Committee”, starting in 1954. Excerpts:
a) We should now urge the ruler to allow an independent newspaper to be published, at any rate for a trial period.
b) We should suggest to the ruler that one or two of the members of the “High Executive Committee” should be appointed as individuals on the government committee to study labour questions, and possibly …to include labour organisations.
c) We might urge modifications of the status of municipalities, so as to give them greater independence in the hope that elections could be successfully held.
d) Reports of the government costs on health and education should be published with appropriate comments, showing how much the government has already done.
A margin of independent press, partial labour measures, a municipal ceiling for popular will, and unlimited PR was all in the foresight of that British gentleman then. Any points of resemblance to measures of now - or past affiliation of leading names under a, b & c- are obviously unrelated and purely coincidental. Nothing therein should detract from the novelty, originality and the exclusive uniqueness of the recently - and not so recently- announced reform measures. For a trial period at any rate.