- Posted September 8, 2013 by
How a regular guy became an online activist
This is the story of how I was moved to get active online and add my voice to the struggle of the people of a small Middle Eastern country.
The country I refer to here is Bahrain. This is a place I have visited on numerous occasions and had grown fond of and of those I had met there.
It started a few days before February 14, 2011, when an acquaintance drew my attention to news that a day of protest was planned. He said “Some b7arna will riot, police will slap them down, and things will be back to normal”.
This is not what happened. People protested, police confronted them and a young man was shot in the back and killed (*BICI case No 1). Next day, at events surrounding his funeral, another person was cut down by the security forces (BICI case No 2).
Of course, all the right things were said by the authorities about how this was a tragedy and how there will be a full investigation into all events with the aim of brining those responsible to justice.
Even the most casual observer now knows this was mere lip service. Such words and sentiments have been expressed by many ruthless regimes in the past with the aim to pacify the outrage their actions rightly elicit.
The killings continued. As did injuries and arrests. The authorities stopped apologising and the tone of the prevailing narrative changed from “protestors asking for freedoms” to “terrorists bent on destroying the country”.
I ventured online to learn and discuss. I found my way onto the comments section of Youtube postings of Bahrain, also on Facebook and twitter. This allowed me to interact with those close to the events. It also allowed me to see the responses from those best described as “loyal to the regime”. I was shocked to see those defending the government seemed far less troubled by the deaths of their fellow citizens at the hands of their government than they were by the inconvenience caused to traffic flow by the mass protests. I was confronted by arguments like “these people were blocking the road!” or “they were damaging a national monument (Lulu)”. The callousness was astounding.
Then one day I woke up and saw footage of Ahmed Farhan Ali Farhan(BICI case No.7) who was shot in the head at a very close range. The sight of his broken skull is still with me.
Socked by the inhumanity on display, I was bewildered by the disregard for human life and human rights. First I was moved to tears. But then decided I want to do something because I didn’t want to be someone who sat back and watched. I decided the most feasible option was to join others online and let Bahrain know the world is watching.
So on the 21st of March I started a twitter account that parodied the PM. I never had a real clear objective, just a desire to join the people who find this type of authoritarian regimes despicable. I went out of my way to ridicule the PM and his clan. It helped that I have an utter disdain for hereditary monarchies.
Over two years later and the situation is not much better. One family holds on to all the power at any cost. While others excluded from having a genuine say in how their country is governed are, amongst other things, labelled as terrorists.