One month ago, Bahrain changed it's calm and serene nature and transformed itself in a different place altogether. On February the 14th, the pro democracy group started with pacific and peaceful protests against the government.
A month down the track and the situation is different, everything has changed.
Being a foreiner and experiencing such conflict, makes me feel uneasy, gives me conflicting emotions and mixed feelings.
I believe in democracy! I am in favor of freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression. I despise prejudice and discrimination. Any kind of it.
In the middle of this mess, I can't help but ask myself why I enjoy living in the Middle east. Why don't I just consider going home, like so many people did.
Here in Bahrain, the social differences are evident. The majority of the shia population have no access to education, don't have very good jobs and have lower salaries than the sunis. If you are shia, you are never going to work for the defense force or for the police. If there are not enough people, the government brings sunis from other countries and give them a passport.
Just imagine how the shia community feels about it. And after years of religious discrimination, they took to the streets. they sang, they complained, they demanded the same rights for all Bahrainis.
In response, the government came with tanks, invaded the Pearl roundabout where people were congregating and at 3 am, opened fire. 7 people died.
One shia lider who was in London, came back to Bahrain. The protests continued. Pro government manifestations started to happen simultaneously.
The crown prince, took hold of the situation, offered to sit down and negotiate. He also promised to punish whoever was responsible for the deaths. As an act of good faith, he offered to reduce the cost of housing, he freed some political prisioners, 5 ministers went down and shia ministers took their places.
Unfortunately the protests pro democracy took a different turn, and from pacific manifestations, they became more violent. the pacifists left the round about and more radical protesters took their places. there was no negotiations. no one sat on the table.
After a month, the government changed it's strategy. Allies from other Gulf countries sent military personnel, the Pearl round about was put down, protests were forbidden and public gatherings are no longer acceptable.More lives were lost. people say there were fatalities on both sides.
No one mentions negotiations, there are troops everywhere.
I heard rumours that police and military have been invading people's homes at the shia villages, that people have been taken to jail. There is no way to know what is really happening - all we know is what we hear here and there. the local midia is owned by the government and not impartial.
We have a curfew now. from 8 pm to 4 am there are areas where it is forbidden to circulate.The malls are not operating in normal times. Schools cancelled classes.
Supermarkets are stocked up again, but petrol stations are closed. The pro democracy group called for strike. Many people joined.
The economy is suffering big time. Empty malls, no tourists, F1 cancelled, Spring Festival of Culture also cancelled. Many people fled the country, others refused to come over. Many companies repatriated families, sent their employees somewhere else - some temporarily, some definitely.
I am still feeling safe, but I am very sad. We have no idea what will happen to this country and it's people. one can only hope for the best and pray for a quick solution.
Há um dia