Let me first tell you a little about my country. I come from the smallest country in the Arab world, the Kingdom of Bahrain. It lies in the middle of the Arabian Gulf where the number of its indigenous population is 570,000. The number of foreigners and expatriates exceed the number of locals, but I tell you - with pride - that despite the geographic and demographic facts, we are giants in our courage and determination to achieve our legitimate rights.
My country, my dear, is governed by the same ruling family since 230 years ago. In my country the indigenous people are treated as second-class citizens and others are imported from abroad to replace them and assist in their suppression and persecution. When this Bedouin family entered our country in the year 1782, the indigenous citizens "who are generally farmers and fishermen" welcomed them ignorantly not knowing that they are jeopardizing their future and the future of their grandchildren.
Historically, the vast majority of the people of Bahrain are Shiite Muslims while the ruling family is Sunni. This did not cause friction among citizens until they found that the royal family imported Sunnis from various countries and nationalities to change the demographic composition of the country.
Throughout our history, our country has had several uprisings and revolutions in which the regime suppressed all of them using all types of means. During the fifties, sixties, seventies and the eighties of the past century, thousands of people lost their jobs and entire families were deported by putting them in boats and sending them to the unknown. Lots of oppositionists were also arrested and tortured to death both from the Shiites and Sunnis. People opposing the regime were targeted and attacked because they opposed the power or stood with the oppressed people.
In 1999, the formal Amir, Shaikh Isa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa passed away. And I call him formal because the real ruler of Bahrain for more than 50 years, is his brother, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman, who is characterized as savvy and malice. The young Crown Prince - Hamad bin Isa – became the ruler of the country. When he took the throne, he ordered for the detainees to be released, the exiled to return to the country, and allowed for the establishment of a parliament. He promised reforms to the extent that people wanted to carry him on their necks. But the hands of his uncle, the Prime Minister and some members of the royal family were determined to enslave the indigenous people, especially citizens, which led to the erosion of reforms from the inside and the return of torture and systematic discrimination. The regime naturalized foreigners in an attempt to erase the identity of the country. Corruption and stealing public money was also underway. It became vital for people to revolt, my friend. The identity of their country was buried in front of their eyes. People were ethnically and religiously persecuted while they stand still to see how the looting of the country’s resources took place for the benefit of the ruling family and their allies.
The factors of the revolution were thus complete and we were encouraged by the Arab Spring in which you in Tunisia became the first precursors. We went out on the streets requesting our rights, justice, and freedom, but we were attacked with tanks, machine guns, and tear gas. They beat us without mercy. They arrested our key oppositionist figures, our women, and our children. They brutally tortured people and cut off their salaries. The regime also tried to intimidate and crush our revolution using help from the armies of neighboring countries in addition to its own. But our unarmed people stood proud and steadfast and are still standing to defy the might of tyrants with their faith and determination.
This is briefly, my friend, the story of the great people of my country. I will tell you next time about my story and that of my mother and my sister, the dentist who was sentenced for 15 years for treating injured protesters. I will tell you about my story in exile. I will tell you the stories of Fadheela, Bahia, Ibrahim Sharif and Khawaja. They are our heroes so that you will get to know the courageousness and bravery of my people.