HomeMiddle EastComing Down From the Tower (Bahrain)

Coming Down From the Tower (Bahrain)

In one of the final extracts from Writing Revolution, Ali Aldairy recounts the narrative of a nation’s overlooked revolution due to a nearly complete media blackout by international and Arab news agencies.

Heading To The Memorial Service At Jadhafas Cemetery

Afternoon Outing to Jadhafas Cemetery for Martyr’s Memorial Service In the afternoon, my friend Abdel Wahhab and I departed from my residence in the Jabalat Habashi neighborhood, near Sanabis and in close proximity to Pearl Square.

Similarly, It was the day of the memorial service, typically held four days after the passing, for the first martyr, Ali Mushaima, and we set out towards Jadhafas cemetery.

Further, On Twitter, I posted: “En route to the march from Jadhafas cemetery. The streets are crowded, and we’re yet to reach the cemetery.”

Also Read: Greetings to the Dawn (Tunisia)

Witnessing Chaos At Pearl Square: Gunshots And Tear Gas Fired

One of the protesters informed us they were headed to Pearl Square, prompting us to drive there. Suddenly, gunshots and tear gas filled the air.

Moreover, As we approached, chaos ensued with cars moving erratically.

Abdel Wahhab stepped out to photograph the injured while I continued driving, unable to stop amidst the confusion. I sent a series of tweets as we navigated through the turmoil:

Heavy fire and ambulances carrying the injured, all heading for Salmaniya Hospital, which is already full to capacity.
The seriously injured man was taken away in a pickup.
A car belonging to a member of parliament driving in front of me.
A journalist friend runs forward and says they’re using live rounds.
The young man next to me weeping hysterically. Seems his friend has been badly hurt.
Stopped at an intersection in al-Naim. More than 8 ambulances have passed by.

Confrontation At The Roundabout: Mourners Confront Security Forces

The mourners proceeded towards the roundabout, which army and security personnel surrounded. Wrapped in Bahrain flags, young men approached armored vehicles and security forces, halting about 100 meters away, chanting ‘In peace! In peace!’ After a brief pause, gunfire erupted once more.

The harrowing scene, captured on camera, depicted victims collapsing amidst a barrage of live rounds, rubber bullets, and tear gas, rendering the area and its occupants breathless.

Then, We headed towards the hospital amidst chaotic streets. Young men from the march hurried back and forth in their vehicles, transporting the wounded.

Furthermore, Outside the emergency ward, a furious crowd gathered, and we joined others in forming a human chain to facilitate the arrival of ambulances and the transportation of the injured inside.

Intense Outcry And Support At Salmaniya Hospital

Amidst escalating emotions, the crowd grew in size and intensity, with passionate shouts and chants echoing demands for the regime’s downfall.

Likewise, My tweet captured the fervent atmosphere as people expressed their anger and frustration.

Outside the emergency ward at Salmaniya Hospital press photographer Mazen Mahdi sobbing bitterly from everything his camera has witnessed. God be with you, Mazen. I wish I had the bravery of one of your photos.

Further, During these events, the Crown Prince surprised everyone with an unplanned television appearance, delivering an unscripted and nervous address to the nation and leaving viewers astonished:

I offer my condolences to all the people of Bahrain for the painful days through which we are living and I wish to send a message to everyone to remain calm. We need time to evaluate what has happened, gather ourselves, restore our humanity and civilized selves, and reclaim our future. Today we are at a crossroads. Young men are taking to the streets, believing that they have no future in this country; others are doing so out of love for their country and the desire to preserve its achievements.

But this land belongs to all, not to one group or another. It does not belong to Sunni or Shia but to Bahrain and the people of Bahrain. At times such as these it is the duty of every true patriot to say, ‘Enough!’ To regain what we have lost over the past few days will be no easy matter, but I have faith in the abilities of true-hearted men.

Chaos Amidst Crown Prince’s Address: Surge In Hospital Admissions

While the Crown Prince delivered his speech, bullets rained down in the streets outside the television studios. At Salmaniya Hospital, all doctors were urgently called to the operating rooms. The number of injured cases inside the building had risen to 96, with some sustaining wounds from live ammunition.

Moreover, Medical sources on-site reported that six individuals required immediate surgical intervention. Abdel Rida Bouhamid (38 years old), who had been shot in the head, faced the gravest condition and was pronounced clinically dead. X-rays confirmed a live round had penetrated his skull.

Hospital Vigil And Media Collaboration: Witnessing Tragic Evidence

We remained at the hospital well into the night, where we encountered a group of British correspondents. Sharing our captured images and video clips with them, we also examined the X-rays of the late Abdel Rida.

Similarly, the attending doctor, surprisingly, turned out to be a childhood acquaintance from my primary school days. Despite years of separation since our schooling, we reunited over the tragic circumstances surrounding the fatal bullet lodged in Abdel Rida Bouhamid’s head.

There was no room for neutrality or claims of impartiality anymore. There was no justification for staying confined behind a desk and avoiding firsthand experience on the streets.

Further, it was not about maintaining balance but about avoiding insensitivity, naivety, or superficiality. The term “balance” carried negative and alarming connotations in such circumstances.

Beirut, July 2011.

Translated from the Arabic by Roger Moger.

Ali Aldairy, a Bahraini scholar, linguist, and cultural commentator with a keen interest in philosophy and religion, has authored multiple books. A committed activist since the Bahraini uprising in 2011, he was compelled to leave the country. While in exile, he established the Arabic online newspaper Mira’at al-Bahrain (The Bahrain Mirror).

Also Read: We Are Not Swallows (Algeria)

Prakriti Paudel
Prakriti Paudel
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