Dec 17th is quite contentious in Bahrain, on one side it has been recently declared as Accession Day celebrating His Majesty’s accession to the throne, while on the other activists chose it to celebrate and commemorate the tens of martyrs who dearly laid down their lives in order to demand parliamentary life and democracy in Bahrain.
I believe that both occasions are important to inculcate the spirit of Nationalism which is very important to the country as a whole as there are quite a few things which are dividing us rather than bringing us together. However, unfortunately the rulers regard this clash as an affront to their authority, which of course does not land very happily with the other side who look at this opposition as a complete disregard for the lives wrongly lost under torture or murder by the authorities.
A very explosive mix and as both side are adamant to “win” rather than find accommodation, or rather, why the rulers do not recognise that celebrating those who did lose their lives for the country and its people is the ultimate thing they can do to bring the people of Bahrain together and increase the respect they would have for the rulers is beyond me. No country exists in the world whose people did not sacrifice dearly to gain and keep their freedoms. Those countries not only celebrate those lost lives, but canonise them by naming streets, public buildings, universities and even put their images on their currency to remind people of those sacrifices and through that, get people to become truly nationalistic and increase their love they have for their countries.
We are quite a way away from those principals in Bahrain, what we have instead is the refusal of the authorities to allow a peaceful demonstration to celebrate those martyrs and immortalise them, even though the organisers complied with all the legal requirements to do so. The organisers obviously thought that this refusal is unconstitutional and that their cause is noble; hence, they just wanted to go ahead with their march starting at 3pm this afternoon at Ras Rumman mosque in Manama. That, would have been on the authorities dead bodies, and fights between riot police and demonstrators ensued in this rather charged atmosphere of Bandargate, the alleged fraudulent elections, and the Al-Wefaq boycott of the inaugural parliamentary session.
The demonstrators retreated and declared that they will regroup and launch the demo this time from Al-Khawajah Mosque in Manama after Maghreb prayers at 6pm. That was not to be, and the demonstrators were prepared for that eventuality and disbursed to various places in Bahrain to demonstrate in smaller groups. Chaos continued to ensue because of both sides just won’t give ground, the most skirmishes happening as I write this are in both Sanabis and Daih, both very militant areas neighbouring Dana and Bahrain malls.
The last I heard is that there are hundreds of riot police engaged right now with hundreds of demonstrators by using rubber bullets and tear gas in copious quantities.
What’s the end result?
It’s becoming like a scratched record now; they will be a lot of people hurt, emotionally and physically, there is going to be even more militancy because people are not allowed to show their respect for their martyrs, the authorities will be even more belligerent and arrest quite a few kids and throw them in prison because of them contravening the Gatherings and Assembly Law passed by our dear departed parliament of 2002, and the whole of Bahrain will continue to reel in the aftermath of this chaos for quite a few months to come.
What should happen, as far as I am concerned is rather simple:
- Partnership. This should be the operative word in the minds of both the rulers and the ruled. Thinking always of “them and us” does not help this country and history proved this time and again.
- For a country to move forward, its history must be celebrated and resurrected, or at least respected and learnt from. There is nothing wrong with celebrating and commemorating the lives of our martyrs. They paid for our current freedom with their very lives. Us acknowledging them is the very least that we, the people and the authorities can do.
There must be a mutually beneficial and agreeable way forward for both “warring” parties, because carrying on with the “us and them” mentality is stupid, tiring and detrimental.
Get with the program, both sides. Please. For the sake of Bahrain.