This was the scene on the roads leading to the Pearl Roundabout last night. This was the last picture I took as I left the roundabout to head home. People were jovial, happy and most certainly peaceful. I remember greeting the marshals guiding people and traffic and telling them well done.
But I fear the gentleman carrying his bedding to the roundabout is anything but that. Though I doubt very much that his love for his country is anything less this morning after being probably brutally attacked with his compatriots before the crack of dawn than what it was last night. That poster behind him summed up the feeling we both have about this country and its people. All of its people.
What’s ahead for this country?
Well, let’s review the demands of those protesting:
- Bilateral Constitutional amendments which are Â binding to address the contentious currentÂ ConstitutionÂ of 2002
- The immediate release of political prisoners, some 450 are incarcerated many of whom are children under 18 years of age
- Release and increase press freedoms, repeal Law 47/2002
- Guard and increase personal freedoms and freedoms of expression
- Investigate corruption and return stolen wealth into the state coffers
- Repeal Law 56/2002 and bring torturers to justice
Are any of these demands unreasonable? Do they differ from the aspirations of any human being?
Unfortunately rather than the government reacting to these demands by offering dialogue, what they did instead is kill seven people in three days and caused the injuries of hundreds more. They attacked peaceful demonstrators, like the gentleman you see above, and the hundreds of women and children at the Pearl Roundabout and at various processions. It’s as if the demands are a serious slight in the face of the government and the ruling family. Why? Is this not the celebrated “modern country” that prides itself as being “businessÂ friendly”? How can it be business friendly if it’s hostile to its own citizens?
If with what’s happening they even think that they can convince the “free world” that what’s actually happening here is “just a skirmish and nothing serious” they’re just as disconnected with reality as the rest of the government seems to be. Nor will those the country is pitching to stupid enough not to have their own sources to ascertain claims. All you have to do now is simply search for Bahrain on Google News and see what you get. How many positive articles would one find?
The situation is dire. Even the medical personnel are not only under extreme pressure to care for the injured and wounded, they are reportedly being obstructed from doing their sacred duty by the security forces and are being severely beaten for it to boot. No wonder they’re demonstrating in anger at their situation.
I fear for this country.
I have never witnessed protests such as these in my life in Bahrain. I’ve most certainly did not witness the level of determination to wrest those demands either. And from what I can personally see, people no longer care if they’re killed while trying, so much so that they are more than happy to get their wives, sisters, mothers and children accompanying them while protesting. I’ve personally seen disabled people at the Pearl Roundabout, some on crutches, in wheelchairs or pushing theirÂ ZimmerÂ frames. All of whom didn’t come out to have a picnic, they, instead firmly believe in the sanctity andÂ genuinenessÂ of their rightful demands.
Yes, the demands of the protestors are understandably more resolute. They’re no longer calling for the reform of the government, but its removal. Such is the effects of brutatlity against unarmed civilians.Â Although the situation is very serious and tense, heightened no doubt by the army taking to the streets with their armoured personnel carriers, we are not yet beyond the abyss. Or at least I fervently hope not. This “conflict” cannot and will not be solved with military or police force. It will only be resolved with genuine dialogue and the offering of concessions, which, ironically, is going to ensure that longevity of the ruling family in Bahrain.
Al-Wefaq, the largest political bloc in parliament with 18 of 40 seats have announced the suspension of their parliamentary membership and strongly denounced the violence and killings, but people see that this is not enough and they demand a stronger stance, nothing less than their immediate resignation from parliament will satisfy them. That and the resignation of the full government as it is fully theirÂ responsibilityÂ for the deterioration of the situation. That is, if the country is genuinely to be saved.
The alternative is too painful to consider.