There were many attempts to sit and write the first blog, but the overwhelming feeling always wins. Not knowing where to start and how to tell all the stories you hear on a daily basis — there are so many.
More than one year later, Bahrain is still struggling, the people are still fighting, they didn’t give up. The world gave up on them. Realizing that what we get in America and other parts of the world are only headlines and bullet points, famous names, and some pictures here and there. In reality, the headline we get once every two weeks, is the story of people’s lives every day here.
The crackdown took different approaches here; it’s not only limited to tear gas, bird gun shots, and arrests. The crackdown became a lifestyle. Even worse, a lifestyle people are getting used to.
Nothing looks different on the surface, everything looks normal on main roads and highways, with pictures of the King, Prime Minister, and Crown Prince hung up everywhere. In villages, however, things are anything but calm.
One of the first experiences we came across, was getting stuck in traffic. All we could see was smoke, as we got closer, we realized that protesters blocked the street with tires and lit them on fire. Minutes later, about 5 police cars were parked, and riot police rushed into village alleyways firing sound bombs and tear gas. It was strange to see everyone calm and just waiting, no honking, no wondering. Everyone is used to it, I was told, “This is normal, this happens everyday in different areas.”
People here are always excited to tell their stories, and recite incidents. Everyone is always talking and discussing the situation, not just in Bahrain but even in Egypt, Syria and around the region.
The sense we got is that youth and activists are organized, and task oriented. It’s a collective effort to plan, document and produce to get their voices and news out there.
Costa Coffee carried the spirit of the Pearl Roundabout, there is that sense of freedom, and determination to keep going. It’s the focal point for activists and journalists, and also secret services!!
The stories we hear every day are shocking and heartbreaking. There is the latest story of Mohamed Al Buflasa, a Sunni activist who was arrested before. Apparently, his relatives didn’t like his activism, so the story as we heard it from people goes like this:
His wife’s sisters brainwashed his teenage daughter and tricked her into filing a case against her dad, accusing him of sexually harassing her, which she did. So Al Buflasa was taken to prison. His sister, and some say his wife, too, stood up for him and denied the accusations. So, police take the girl, as well, for a hoax — without questioning the aunts who pushed her to act.
There are the stories of the kids, one who got shot in his left eye and lost it while he stood by his dad to sell fish — Ahmed Nasser Alnaham. Another 11 year old kid, Ali Hasan, who went to court for being accused of taking money from people to block roads, according to the Ministry of Interior.
So many stories of families who lost a father, a brother, or a son. Families who lost their jobs and are on a daily hunt for food. Kids dropping out of school to work and bring food to the table.
A woman told me that a man in his late 40s offered to wash her car for her. She said that she doesn’t need it watched, but then looked at his face, and couldn’t bare to leave him like that. She told him you can just wipe the windows and I’ll pay you. She says, he ran to my car, to clean it just to get money. She was explaining to me how much it hurts to see the Bahraini elderly unemployed and helpless, trying to bring food to the table in any way possible.
We will follow stories of families and try to go to their homes, and shed light on their struggle. Follow our Twitter @connect_bahrain for live updates and news.