Photo of Sayed Hashem’s Funeral Procession, by @MazenMahdi
Bahrainis cannot look back at 2011 with many fond memories. During the past year, inspired by the amazing events in Tunisia and Egypt, and on the 14th of February, the people of Bahrain came out in the tens of thousands demanding reform from a government in which its Premier has been at its helm for more than 40 years. This amassed into hundreds of thousands taking the – now demolished – Pearl Roundabout as the epicenter of the pro-democracy movement in the country.
Although the pro-reform movements in Bahrain date back to at least the 1920s, the kind of repression with which this movement was confronted was on a scale never before seen in the modern history of the country:
- At least 50 people killed (Age range from 5 days to 70+ years old)
- Thousands arrested/tortured/ill-treated.
- Thousands sacked from their jobs.
- Almost 40 mosques (belonging to the Shia sect) demolished.
- The wounded are not accounted for!!
As the year progressed, and the regime violating every single Human Right there is in the book, more radical demands emerged within the pro-democracy movement ultimately asking for the end of the monarchical rule in Bahrain. This is all notwithstanding the fact that the close to 600,000 people of Bahrain have not before been so divided, as the regime’s actions (and there could be some blame leveled on the oppsition) caused fractures within the fabric of the Bahraini society that could need a whole generation to repair, and only when the current crisis is abated.
Having said all that, and as people prepared to welcome the New Year, and on its Eve, the Bahrain police killed a 15 year-old boy with what is thought to be a teargas connister from close range (this VIDEO documents the events of that evening). Consequently, and in a typical move by the Bahrain regime, all roads leading into Sitra Island were closed off by police to prevent mourners from all across Bahrain from attending the funeral procession. People even tried to get there by sea, but were also blocked. This led to clashes erupting between police and mourners in most villages surrounding Sitra, and especially neighboring Ma’ameer village.
2011 has not been the best of years for Bahrainis, and they would probably want to leave many of its bad memories behind with it, but one thing that they will always remember was How it felt to be Free. During the month-long stay at the Pearl Roundabout, Bahrainis had an overwhelming sense of freedom that they had not before experienced. That is one thing that will be carried forward into 2012, and be forever cherished and sought. The Bahrain regime is confronting a whole generation that has grown beyond its years from the experiences of the past 10 months, felt freedom and then had it taken away, and now willing to stay the course until that freedom is regained. That’s a very dangerous adversary to be confronting, and Bahrain will only be heading downhill if its current rulers don’t losen their grip on power. They’ve squandering so many opportunities to make amends with the people, and at some point it’s just going to be too late…… if not already!