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Khawaja tells about Bahrain oppression

khawjaA prominent Bahraini activist has called for media coverage of Al Khalifa regime’s brutality against protestors in Bahrain.
“The thing about Bahrain is that nobody really knows what’s going on there because there’s not much media coverage but the protests never stopped,” Maryam al-Khawaja said during a recent lecture at the American University of Beirut, CNN reported.
At just 26, the young Bahraini woman is already one of her country’s most outspoken rights activists, and she’s on a mission: to make sure “that people across the world, not just the Arab world, across the world, are hearing about what’s going on the ground.”
To carry out that mission, al-Khawaja — who has dual Bahraini and Danish citizenship, and is the acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights — lives in exile and travels the world explaining how her people are oppressed.
“Every single day,” al-Khawaja says, “between 15 to 25 different areas come out to protest in Bahrain. Every single day.”
Those demonstrations began in February 2011, at the height of the Arab Spring. Bahraini citizens, spurred by successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, demanded democratic reforms and other changes in the way the country was run.
But Bahrain’s uprising failed to gain the traction of other regional revolutions after a crackdown by authorities in the tiny island state, backed by troops from nearby Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Demonstrators say authorities killed dozens of people and arrested, tortured and imprisoned hundreds of others. Opposition leaders have tried to keep the protest movement alive.
For al-Khawaja, the cause continues. She says her countrymen and women will not be silenced, despite the odds they face.
“When you’re talking about human rights, it’s black and white,” she says. “There’s no excuse for committing human rights violations.”
Al-Khawaja accuses Bahrain’s government of committing violations on a daily basis, and says her organization exists in part to document those abuses.
The small Persian Gulf Arab state and Western ally, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, has been rocked by bouts of unrest since February 2011 when an uprising led by members of the Shia majority demanded the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty give up power.
At least 80 people have been killed since Arab Spring-inspired protests erupted in Bahrain in early 2011, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.

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