Tuesday, November 02, 2004video this morning provoked within me the deepest sense of anger and sadness. It portrays scenes we have scene many times on TV in countries like India, Sub-saharan Africa - but in this case - it is in the Gulf country of Bahrain. Yes that part of the world with Sheikhs who swim in swimming pools of oil.
It shows 3 generations of a family in Karranah living in a poverty trap. The grandfather, a 75 year old man working on someone else's farm, saying at his age he shouldnt be working but forced to provide, he should be in his mijlas with his misbaa7, but who would feed the kids? What really touched me was the son, Hani, who with a smile tells the lady, what do u think of my flat? The place was unfit for human habitation, but on 85BD a month what can he do. As for the kid who says 'nitrazzag rabna ba3ad waish insowi' what future does he have. This may not make sense but each word uttered is echoing in my head. Lost innocence and oppressed existence.
Yes, the violin music helps, and i'm not one for sentimentality, but why am I crying so heavily? The injustice and knowing that we shouldnt have a single Bahraini living like this in this day and age and the hopeless feeling that there isnt much I can do.
We can donate money, but the poor people of Bahrain find it humiliating accepting donations unless it is through the mosque or other official body. Very few businessmen are philanthropists in Bahrain, ONE exception that comes to mind is the late Haji Hasan Alaali, who built houses, scholarships and other charitable schemes for the poor. Ultimately the government is responsible for this however. 'Where is all the money from tourism and oil', Hani asks. Good question Hani, never mind the slums you live in, you'll be glad to know that a 500 million F1 racetrack has been built. I tell the lady who I go to thread my eyebrows the same thing. With her 6 kids and unemployed husband she works non-stop during the day charging pittance for plucking peoples unwanted hair. She uses this bizarre technique with her finger- more about this another time, but lets just say she only has 4.5 fingers on her right-hand now just to maintain her family's ramshackled existence. She is good though and I have a nice pair of eyebrows to vouch for this. It does ease my guilty conscience slightly by going to her and overtipping.
Some villages dont have paved roads or entrances, and projects to develop sewers are taking years and years to complete. It only takes a short trip to Rafa3 down the road to see miles of tree-lined roads and artificial landscapes to see the stark contrast. It is this inequality that tears me apart. I live in both worlds which are not the same Bahrain. We've all seen the nice Bahrain - malls, skyscrapers, artificial islands, villas etc. Now it is time to acknoweledge the other Bahrain - the Bahrain of squalor and deprivation.
I thank BCHR for highlighting the plight of the village. I thank Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi Alkhwaja for all their efforts over the past couple of years as the heads of BCHR. You are truly noble men and I hope the government's reprisal will not hinder or shake your determination in standing for our human rights. Poverty, discrimination, victims of torture, naturalization will remain on the agenda for many years to come.
I thank King Hamad for building a new village in Morocco named after him. I thank the PM for purchasing two more islands in Thailand. I thank Sh. Zayed for the much needed homes he has built in Bahrain which the government has assigned to merceneries in the defence and police forces.
*I'll try and get in touch with BCHR to get english subtitles. Quick get in there before Batelco blocks the site.