Maryam Al-Khawaja, the daughter of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja who went on a 110 day hunger strike protesting against human rights violations, reflects upon the Bahraini uprising.
On that day, February 14, 2011, there was a sense that things would change. The energy of the crowd was electric and contagious. The frustration that had built up for years unfolded in the form of peaceful protests in Pearl Square — the revolutionary space that had housed hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis for months, and had been subsequently destroyed by authorities. On that day, February 14, 2011, history repeated itself in Bahrain, as the sources of power repressed the majority through the forceful dispersion of protests, extra judicial killings, the use of imported tear gas, arbitrary arrests, and systematic torture.
Despite the hollow gestures of "reform" initiatives and the expensive public relations image that the Bahraini regime has paid for in the halls of power in Washington and Europe, the change in Bahrain since February 14, 2011 has not occurred through some generous bestowment by the regime. Rather, the change has been brought about by the masses disenchanted with the rhetoric of empty promises. Despite the absence of international support for the demands of dignity, justice, and human rights, the spirit of Bahrainis has sustained the uprising.
Despite the abundance of American arms and Saudi Arabian soldiers, Bahrainis today, refuse to yield. From the seventeen-year-old boy, who lost his eye sight as a result of tear gas, to the young elementary student expelled from school for making a political statement, to the prisoners of conscience locked away in jail cells for expressing themselves in the face of a repressive regime, today's Bahrain will not give up.
*[This article was originally published by Jadaliyya.]
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