Those of you who have been following my blog will know that I’ve been writing about the incredible role that women have been playing in the uprisings across the Middle East. I’ve been commenting especially on how women have changed the expectation and the stereotype that they are oppressed or trapped at home or not political.
Well, this week we hear of the death of the first female ‘martyr’ of Bahrain. I highlight it because of the incredible protest you see below that ensued during her funeral. Just look at all the women who are out on the street, it inspires awe.
According to The National which is based out of Abu Dhabi:
Bahiya al Aradi was en route from her elderly mother’s home in central Manama to the home of her best friend of 40 years, a woman who would agree to be identified only by the name Salwa.
After the violent events of the morning, there was a heavy police and military presence on the roads as al Aradi drove Salwa’s car from Manama towards the area of Budaiya.
A drive that would normally take 20 minutes ended up taking hours, as she was stopped by multiple military checkpoints.
Umm Mahmoud said her sister was rerouted several times, struggled to find petrol and became increasingly alarmed about driving in the dark with armed soldiers on the streets.
As she was driving through the village of Qadam, al Aradi was on the phone to one of her sisters, who suddenly heard what sounded like shots being fired on the other end of the line.
“My sister heard Bahia scream,” said Umm Mahmoud, 37, in the family home’s majlis in Manama. “My sister called me and said ‘Maybe she’s dead’.”
Three days later, the al Aradi family were informed that she was at the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital. After several unsuccessful attempts to enter the facility, Habib al Aradi, her brother, was finally given access and found his elder sister hooked up to life-support.
On Monday night, the family were told that she had passed away.
There has been no comment from the government about al Aradi’s death, but the official death certificate issued to the family yesterday said she died from the “shock” of a “severe brain injury”.
By yesterday, a wound in the back of her head had been stitched up, making it difficult to determine the exact entry point of the bullet.
Of course Libya is gaining huge coverage in the media, events there are horrific, but it seems that Bahrain has been forgotten – or at least its importance and the suffering of its population has drifted down the news agenda. Foreign troops have come in to suppress protest – protest for democracy – and deaths are ensuing. There are reports also that access to hospitals – this one at the very least – is being restricted, and with heavy military presence.
Our prayers are with all those across the Middle East – and the world – who are engaging in such protests. I feel whatever we can do to support the movement for change, and the blood with which people are paying, it is not enough.