April 7, 2011 A village in Bahrain/New York
I was able to correspond with a young woman whose identity I can verify though I can not release it out of concern for the safety of herself and her family. For the purposes of publication I give her the name “Rosa.” She is a university student living in Bahrain. The text below is a combination of a written statement that she sent to me and a brief interview.
Statement of “Rosa” from Bahrain
I am 19 years old. I live in a small village. I’m studying in university of Bahrain and this is my second year. My life was like any young girl’s life. Everyday I go to my college and study, go out with my friends to different places (malls, Restaurants …etc). I visited my relatives every Thursday and sit with my family on Fridays. In my free time I read books and stories about different things. Everything seemed possible. I could do what I wanted to do, go anywhere, and the most important thing, say what I wanted to say.
14 February was the day that has changed my life. Nothing is like before this day. It was our hope to make our lives better than before. I did not predict that it will cost us many of our brothers and sisters. I thought our democratic country could be a really democratic one!
What has changed in my life is that now I don’t go out that much. I do not spend money like before because I don’t know what will happen in the future. I must be careful when I talk to people and not say anything that has a relation with what is happening now and especially nothing against the government .
I was shocked when I heard about what did happen in university of Bahrain. I thought that this is the most safe place in this country and nothing could happen to us there. I can’t study there now while I know that no one can protect me an I even can’t trust any Sunni. I ended all my relations with them because I’m afraid of them and some of them started to say bad things about the Shia! That we don’t deserve to live and we should go to Iran. Many awful things have been said to me. My parents taught me to love all people and that there is no difference between them, but I can’t have a dialog with someone who threatens to kill me.
After the state of emergency, my life became a disaster! I didn’t meet my friends for along time. I don’t even see my family ! I can’t go out because it’s too dangerous . I can’t study in these situations . In the night, there is so much noise outside that I can’t sleep. It’s not typical night sounds. It’s the police shooting. I am terrified that they will come to my house and take one of my family or maybe kill us. I always stay awake at night trying to protect my family in case something bad happened. Now I can’t talk to any strangers. They can kill me and no one can say anything!
In the past I always dream about being successful woman but now I don’t think that will happen. My future is a puzzle with no clue. I just want to live safe, have freedom of speech and to live life as I want with no boundaries.
RV: Do you always wake so early? [this part of the interview was conducted in the dawn hours in Bahrain which are comfortable evening hours in New York]
Rosa: I didn’t sleep. I can’t sleep at night.
RV: You write that you do not sleep.
RV: Ah but you must sleep. Your mind will break.
Rosa: Every time I sleep something bad happens so I promised my self to not sleep at night anymore.
RV: The people who started the demonstrations on Feb 14 many were very young.
Rose: Yes 18-30.
RV:I read the interview by Moezx. He said that when the police rounded up the protesters on the first night it was as if they had captured children.
Rosa: Most of them are between 18-30 because they want to live better. For us it is so hard to be Shi’ite. Because u will have no job. No money. No scholarship. No rights. Interview Ends
For reference February 14 was the beginning of the Wave of protests that have gripped Bahrain this year and which led to the democracy movement’s occupation of the Pearl Roundabout in downtown Manama the capital. The call for protest was initiated by young people and promoted by social media under the slogan ” No Sunni No Shia: We are all Bahrain.” A month of protests and attempted crackdowns by the regime ensued during which the democracy movement there strengthened and mobilized hundreds of thousands of people in mass street demonstrations. The Al-Kalifa Monarchy was unable to stem the tide and members of other Gulf Council states lead by Saudi Arabia decided to back the monarchy and send in troops to quell the protests decisively.
On March 14, one month to the day after the protests began Saudi tanks and troops entered Bahrain and the Monarchy called a state of emergency and enacted measures tantamount to the imposition of martial law. Numerous press reports and interviews with Bahraini Shia and others confirm the most severe and brutal repression imaginable. Nearly 30 people have been killed since the state of Emergency began over 30 are missing with whereabouts unknown and over 400 people are known to be detained.
Bahrain is home to the US 5th Naval Fleet and has been developing as a regional center for banking and finance. Though it had maintained a veneer of modernity and liberal tolerance, the history of the repression of the Shia goes back for decades in the contemporary era and for centuries if looked at historically. The Shia population represent a majority of the indigenous population of the country but the monarchy is based in the much smaller Sunni Arab population. The monarchy has maintained this situation of minority rule since the 1780’s. Protest movements against these conditions have flared up periodically and the regime has a history of arrests, imprisonment and torture of political dissidents especially those demanding social equality for the Shia population.
This interview is the sole property of the Rawlinsview Blog and may be reprinted only by permission.
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