If you’re a Bahraini, protesting in the can have ‘grave consequences’

BAHRAIN_w609I’m a Bahraini student doing my final year in mechanical engineering at a university in Britain.

Last month I participated in a protest of solidarity with my people, family, and friends in Bahrain. It took place in front of the BBC building in Manchester. The protest was peaceful, and most of the demonstrators were holding Bahraini flags. We were supporting the call for democracy, equal rights and constitutional reform that promotes basic human rights and peaceful coexistence between all religious and ethnic communities in the kingdom.

Three days after the protest my family received a phone call from the ministry of education in Bahrain telling them that my scholarship had been revoked. My family inquired about the reasons and justifications for this decision but nothing was mentioned apart from the fact that I had taken part in an illegal demonstration against Bahrain and that I violated the rules of the ministry of education.

My dad was shocked, so he asked whether they had any evidence for this claim and how they knew I was there in the first place. They told him that I was caught on camera, and they had video footage of me in the act. They insisted that I must come back to Bahrain immediately or grave grave consequences could result from my actions.

In my opinion some of the images were taken by Bahraini or Saudi “spies” alerted to the event on Facebook. The demonstration was frequently disrupted by interventions from supporters of the regime and some people whom protesters identified as being from Saudi Arabia.

Some of the slogans that were calling for regime change had nothing to do with us, and we found them to be quite contrary to the reason for the demonstration.

When contacted, the Bahraini embassy in London declined to comment on the claims against us and or give grounds for the government’s sanctions. All inquiries about the withdrawal of scholarships were redirected to the cultural attache, who has not returned any of the calls to date.

As a consequence, the termination of the scholarships with immediate effect has created a dire financial need, as well as emotional and mental distress. We are all now living in fear for our safety and wellbeing and know that we are likely to be detained on our return to Bahrain.

There are many documented cases of students disappearing on returning to Bahrain. We really have no idea where this is heading and we don’t know what will become of us. I just hope that peace and unity will return to my beloved country soon so that we students can participate in making Bahrain an example of progress in our region and the Gulf as a whole.

I believe the government of Bahrain should reconsider its position and try to iron out its differences with the opposition. There is no need for young innocent people like myself to pay with our future for a political conflict that can easily be resolved through dialogue.

At the end of the day we are all Bahrainis and we are all brothers who have lived together in peace for hundreds of years.

Source : Suliman al-Bahraini,


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