Bahrain, diving into a forbidden country
In Bahrain, every day for the last year, women and men have been going into the streets, risking their lives to demand freedom and democracy. For a month, Stéphanie Lamorré gained access to the besieged districts and secretly filmed the violent suppression of the demonstrations.
It is almost impossible to enter Bahrain as a journalist. At the end of April, when the kingdom hosted the Formula 1 Grand Prix despite the problems rocking the country, reporters who tried to film the repression of the demonstrations were arrested. Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, this small monarchy in the Persian Gulf does not issue visas to the media. Crossing the border illegally, as in Syria, is not an option as Bahrain is an island. NGOs also have difficulty getting in to the country.
Over the last few months, several journalists have been expelled when the police discovered they had attended demonstrations for democracy. Footage of events in Bahrain is hard to come by. The only way of finding out what is happening is via amateur video-clips posted on YouTube and information sent by activists via Twitter. Stéphanie Lamorré has spent a month under cover in the country alongside the rebels. She gives an account of her experience, from the viewpoint of three women. Brave activists who explain their revolution is going unseen. How can they make the uprising against the government visible? Three destinies, three views on the country excluded from the Arab revolution and forgotten by the west.
Documentary – ARTE France, Premières Lignes, 2012, 52 min
Directed by Stéphanie Lamorré
On air on ARTE on Tuesday, 12th June, 22.15 pm
The situation in Bahrain
In the last year, 60 people have been killed. A lot for a country of 600,000 inhabitants, ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The Bahrainis are demanding the same as the Syrians, Egyptians and Tunisians: democracy and freedom. But the rest of the world seems convinced it won’t happen in Bahrain. The reality is that the Bahraini insurgents have fallen foul of history. Unlike in Syria, in Bahrain the majority of the population is Shiite whilst the elite is Sunni. And Bahrain is a satellite of Saudi Arabia and an ally to western countries. It was the Saudi army and its tanks that invaded Bahrain to re-establish order in the streets. It is a hard concept to imagine, a country invading a sovereign nation with tanks to suppress peaceful civilian demonstrations.
Zainab (29 years old, Activist/Blogger)
Zainab is one of the activists with whom Stéphanie Lamorré, the director of the documentary BAHREÏN, PLONGÉE DANS UN PAYS INTERDIT, was in contact before she arrived in Bahrain. She tweets all day long to make the world aware. Her pseudonym is “angryarabia” (@angryarabiya).
Fatima (28 years old, Doctor)
Fatima was arrested last year because she was working at Salmanya hospital at the time of the clashes and she treated some demonstrators. She has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. She talks about a memo sent to the hospitals a week before this interview forbidding them to treat people injured during demonstrations.
Nada (38 years old, Doctor)
Nada was arrested, imprisoned and tortured for treating protestors from Pearl Roundabout during the confrontations the year before. She looks back on her arrest.
Ouahida (28 years old, Volunteer nurse)
Ouahida is not a nurse, but she has taken first aid courses, so she can help her compatriots. Every day, Ouahida risks going to people’s houses to care for them. This film shows the demonstration of 13 February 2012, the eve of the date of the anniversary of the revolution in Bahrain.
Zahra (22 years old, Unemployed)
Zahras husband is a political refugee who lives in exile, she is hoping to be able to join him. At the start of the film, Zahra visits the family of a martyr as a sign of support. Then, we film her in her car, before going to the demonstration.
Zahra at the cemetery
Zahra visits the grave of her 18-year-old cousin who was killed a few days previously by the police. Whilst being chased by police jeeps, he was hit by two vehicles simultaneously, causing internal haemorrhaging. He was then taken to the police station where he died.
In this scene we can see Ouahida and her daughter crying out “Allahu Akbar” as a sign of protest against the regime and support for the protesters.
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