Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Horror in Bahrain

Letter to President Obama

Mr President,

"I write to you from Bahrain, after living through the kind of horrible injustice that I would never wish on anyone in the world.

"The security forces attacked my home, smashing in the doors with sledgehammers and terrifying my family. Without warning, without an arrest warrant, without giving any reason, armed, masked men attacked my father. Although they said nothing we all know that my father's crime is to be a human rights activist. My father was grabbed by the neck, dragged down a flight of stairs and then beaten unconscious in front of me. He never raised his hand to resist them, and the only words he ever said were 'I can't breathe'. Even after he had lost consciousness, the masked men kept kicking and beating him, all the while cursing and threatening to kill him. This was a very real threat considering that in the past 2 weeks alone, 3 political prisoners have died in custody. The special forces also beat up and arrested my husband and brother-in-law.

"Since their arrest 3 days ago, we have heard nothing. We do not know where they are or whether they are safe or not. In fact, we still have no news of my uncle who was arrested 3 weeks ago when troops put guns to the heads of his children and severely beat his wife.

"Having studied in America, I have seen how strongly your people believe in freedom and democracy. Even through these horrible times, many of the people supporting me are Americans who never thought their government would stand by dictators against freedom-loving people. To the American people I send my love and gratitude.

"I have chosen to write to you and not to my own government because the Alkhalifa regime here has already shown that they do not give a damn about our rights or even our lives.

"When you were sworn-in as President of the United States, I had high hopes. I thought: here is a person who would never have become president if not for the African-American fight for civil rights, he will understand our fight for freedom. Unfortunately, so far my hopes have been dashed. Perhaps I misunderstood. What was it you meant, Mr President? YES WE CAN... support dictators? YES WE CAN... help oppress pro-democracy protesters? YES WE CAN... turn a blind eye to a people's suffering?

"Our wonderful memories have all been replaced by terrible ones. Our staircase still has traces of my father's blood. I sit in my living room and can see the place where my father and husband were thrown face down and beaten. I can see their shoes by the door and remember they were taken barefoot. As a daughter and as a wife I refuse to stay silent while my father and husband are probably being tortured somewhere in a Bahraini prison. As the mother of a one-year-old who wants her father and grandfather back, I must take a stand. I will not be helpless. Starting 6pm Bahrain time tonight, I will go on a hunger strike. I demand the immediate release of my family members. My father: Abdulhadi Alkhawaja. My husband: Wafi Almajed. My brother-in-law: Hussein Ahmed. My uncle: Salah Alkhawaja.

"I am writing this letter to let you know that if anything happens to my father, my husband, my uncle, my brother-in-law, or to me, I'll be holding you just as responsible as the Alkhalifa regime. Your support for this monarchy makes this government a partner in crime. I still have hope that you will realize that freedom and human rights mean as much to a Bahraini person as they do to an American, a Syrian or a Libyan, and that regional and political considerations should not take priority over liberty and human rights.

"I ask you to look into your beautiful daughters' eyes tonight and ask yourself what you personally would be willing to sacrifice in order to make sure that they can sleep safe at night, that they can grow up with hope rather than fear and heartache, that they can have their father's and grandfather's embrace to run to when they are hurt or in need of support. Last night my one-year-old daughter went knocking on our bedroom door calling for her father, the first word she ever learnt. It tore my heart to pieces. How do you explain to a one-year-old that her father is in prison? I need to look into my daughter's eyes tomorrow, next week, in the years to come, and tell her I did all I could to protect her family and future.

"For my daughter's sake, for her future, for my father's life, for the life of my husband, to unite my family again, I will begin my hunger strike." (

Zeinab Alkhawaja
11 April 2011

1 comment:

brian said...

'Having studied in America, I have seen how strongly your people believe in freedom and democracy'

is this serious?

US only ever believes in REGIME CHANGER and CONTROL. Why do people think the US (= US power elite) ever believes in anything else?