Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima and Fadhel Al Matrook wanted to live in a free Bahrain. For this they came out on the streets, inspired by the courage of protestors in Tunisia and Egypt. For this, they lost their lives.
Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima was killed when live ammunition was fired into a crowd of protestors on Valentine’s Day in a village in Bahrain’s north. A day later, a funeral procession began from the gates of the hospital where he breathed his last moments.
Fadhel Al Matrook had come to pay homage to this martyr of freedom but before long, he too became the target of live shotgun pellets fired into the crowd of mourners. He too died of his wounds.
The authorities in Bahrain had no compunction about cracking down on the Day of Rage protests that were organized by rights activists on February 14, 2011.
Inspired by the events in Egypt, protestors have been calling for the right to free expression, the release of political prisoners, a new constitution and an elected government.
Since the deaths, protestors have taken over “Pearl Square” a major traffic intersection at the heart of Bahrain’s financial district. Thousands of protestors have been spending the night under makeshift tents and blanket, with one protestor using a bullhorn to urge others to stay until the Government responds to their demands for change.
While the Government has expressed its condolences at the deaths of the protestors, few promises for change have emerged so far. While Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Al Khalifa expressed his sorrow over the deaths, bans continued to stay in place against political parties including the leading Shiite bloc Al-Wafaq.
On Tuesday, the AlWafaq group suspended its participation in the Bahraini Parliament to express its solidarity with the protestors. Bahrain’s Al-Khalifa family, which enjoys strong Saudi support, has ruled the country for decades allowing only minimal electoral competition and civil rights, often repressing dissidents and silencing opponents to the Royal family using state institutions.
Only days before the February 14th Day of Rage protests, Amnesty International released a new report on the human rights crackdown in Bahrain that documents how respect for human rights has deteriorated significantly in the past year in the face of growing anti-government sentiment and violent protests.
The deaths of the two protestors, like the killing of Khalid Said, the Egyptian blogger who was beaten and killed by authorities in Alexandria, have failed to intimidate forcing more protestors on the streets. In the words of Nabeel Rajab President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:
“People don’t only want an investigation into the killings__they want change”
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