I have been part of this revolution,” the revolution of pearls” as we started calling it. This is a story of a nation often perceived to be weak. A nation awaken, and this is the story of Bahraini youths.
Sectarianism is a sensitive issue in Bahrain. Shiite Vs Sunnis. The Shiites are often accused of plotting to acquire political and regional importance,obtaining ideology and methodology from Iran, and that they lack in patriotism. On the other hand, Sunnis follow their leaders, while the Shiites hold illoyal agendas towards their country.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the royal government protects Sunnis, they will always did. From their own people.
This is the basic concept that the government has always tried its best to instill in Bahrain. It was the easiest way to divide the people. This is what they wanted us to believe.
Discrimination against the Shiites is widespread And obvious to all on-lookers. Creating boundaries and limitations to prevent excessive and unnecessary authority to the Shiites, granting privileges and wealth to certain groups in accordance to their tribal roots, family name, location, race… etc, you name it.
However, a moment’s reflection reveals that all parties have nothing to boast of. Whether Sunnis or Shiites.
Khaleefa Bin Salman Al-Khaleefa has been Prime Minister and de facto ruler for more than 35 years! Now, why would one person have such privilege? “Just because he belongs to the royal family” , comes the answer and guess what? We should be satisfied with such a response . The majority of ministers, top government officials, merchants and traders, military men, Bahrain defense force, almost everything is controlled by the royal family and those rich families who are loyal to them. They alone hold patents of everything, even us, we are nothing but followers or salves.
What happens if you question or even wonder? “We may ignore you, jail you, torture you, we will do what we think we need to do to straighten you out, make you a better citizen”, the answer echoes back.
Imagine yourself growing up in your country being told by your parent that your dreams should always have limits! “My son, you cannot be a minister, you cannot become the prime minster no matter what you do” says my mum and every mum in my country. Why? Because we do not have it in our blood! We do not belong to the royal family, we are not rich!
Over couple of years, the size of my country increased by more than 30 percent! The royal family and the rich families inside the circle of the elite members of the society own more than 93% of beaches!
“Man, you’re so lucky, you have the Formula one in your country, you live in a rich country, you have oil and Bahrain is the hub of Banking in the Middle East” says a friend on Facebook. But wait a second: I am poor! Yes, the government has an allocated budget and spends about 500 million dinars (a dinar is around 2.6 USD) from the budget towards building a world-class F1 track from our own pockets! From people’s pocket. Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) declares un-believable net losses every year in their annual report!
If you are an ordinary citizin in Bahrain, you still need to get a loan for every single action of my life: a loan for a car, a loan for my engagement, a mortgage loan for at 25 years of my life! If I apply for government housing and if I were lucky, I will be granted a tiny house after 15 years of average waiting time and guess what? It is not free, you will have to pay installments until you own it!
What do you want me to say? I can spend one year typing and listing our problems, cases of corruption and illustrations of humiliation will never stop.
The king promised us, the people, that he will grant us ademocratic monarchy if we vote for the monarchy. “I will release all political prisoners, I shall compensate those who lost their sons tortured to death in prisions, I will allow a new era of freedom of speech, members of the council chamber will have no privileges but give council” said the King while holding the holy quran infront of those his regime fought for decades. We believed him, we wanted to believe him. We were not stupid but we wanted him to know how kind we were. We forgave him and Bahrain’s national charter was born. (The National Action Charter of Bahrain is a document put forward by King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifah of Bahrain in 2001 in order to end the popular 1990s Uprising and return the country to constitutional rule. It was approved in a national referendum in 2001, in which 98.4% of the voters voted in favor of the document.)
What did we get in return? False promises. A completely new charter, a new constitution written by an Egyptian person! We were fooled; this is what we get when we trust him. As I said, I can spend one year typing and listing our problems.
We have a dream, we always had. The 14 Feb movement started with peace and nothing else. We demand nothing but the right to live with dignity. This movement was not initiated by Shiite or Sunnis, it was initiated by Bahrainis. We represent the dreams of every Bahraini, every single one. Yes, we do not deny that what happened in Tunisia and Egypt fuelled our movement but the whole world supported what happened in those two countries. We didn’t use violence and we intend not to use it even if none of us is left alive.
We showed the world how to protest peacefully and lovingly. Open arms defeat tanks.
I am crying as I write this. I remember Ridha, 32, who was shot in the head while opening his arms. He was shouting : “Silmiya, Silmiya” in Arabic. That’s: “Peace, Peace” in English.
This is Ridha http://i.imgur.com/9ppzU.jpg
We threw flowers to the riot police, they replied by opening fire.
I cannot continue writing…DWJ