Today in A'ali in Bahrain, security forces --- as is their standard practice --- moved against protesters after a funeral procession for a man killed last week, allegedly after an incident with a police jeep. They used tear gas in an attempt to disperse demonstrators who had blocked roads into the village.
Activist Zainab Alkhawaja (@angryarabiya), despite attempts to dissuade her by fellow demonstrators, went up to the police in a dramatic expression of personal resistance. It was feared for some time that she had been arrested, but she escaped detention. This is her account of what happened:
Hi all, first of all I hope there were no serious injuries after the attack today by riot police on the mourners in Aali.
I have been thinking for awhile about our protests, and tweeting that we should be sitting peacefully in front of police, not running. Today I didn't run, and as police ran towards me, shooting at the protesters, I remained on my knees holding up a Bahraini flag.
Brave, no. I just read the BICI [Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry] forensic team report of my dad's testimony about the torture he was subjected to. [Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, a prominent political activist, has been sentenced to life in prison during the current protests.] Going through details of how my father was tortured, I kept thinking... I WILL NOT accept living under this regime.
I expected to get injured with the amount of shooting, but I didn't and within seconds I was surrounded by riot police. Civilian clothed [plainclothes] police surrounded me & started filming & taking pictures. Someone kept shouting at them, "Not this one, don't beat her."
As they ran past me to attack the protesters, one riot police [officer] grabbed the Bahrain flag in my hand and threw it on the ground. Then some of the riot police got back in their jeeps to follow the protesters into the village and attack them there.
I was already in front of them but I stood up and held up my hands in a victory sign. and I started shouting "Yasqot Hamad (Down Down King Hamad)". So they all got out of their jeeps, some came towards me wanting to beat me but again were prevented from hitting me
Unfortunately if it was someone else, I would have probably been tweeting about their injury, detention, or even death now.
The riot police wanted to arrest me but because they had orders not to touch me, they were waiting for the female police to arrive. Meanwhile I was happy holding about 5 or 6 jeeps back.
The riot police got out of their cars and started mocking me. One told me to move and I said, "Why? So you can go attack unarmed kids who are fighting for their freedom?"
One said, "what's wrong with you, are you drunk? You know what we can do to u?" I said, "First, make me fear your masters before trying to make me fear you."
As I stood there, one riot police [officer[ suddenly hit me in the back with his elbow. I fell on the car and got up again. Police spoke to each other, "Did you get what she said clearly? Can it be heard?". The other one said, "Don't worry, we have it all."
I told them, "Dont worry, I'll say it again & again" I started saying "Down down Hamad" and speaking to them. I said, "Don't you believe in God? On Judgement Day? How do you sleep at night. How do you attack brave people fighting for justice?"
Most of them were laughing and spitting in my direction, but I could see a couple who looked very upset. One of the upset riot police said to me quietly, "This is our job." I said, "Is it also your job to injure children, to beat up women?"
I said to police "Is it also your job to torture political detainees? To kill them under torture> You are employed by oppressors!"
I wanted to speak to them, I wanted to ask them these questions. I'm so proud of Syrian police who stood with the people, and of course so proud of the Bahrain police who stood with us as well and are paying a very high price for it.
One of the officers started shouting at police, "Go back to your cars, this isn't a show. This is exactly what she wants. Ignore her."
One of the police cars was trying to go around me, and I didn't move. He said, "You know we can just run you over." I said, "It wouldn't be the 1st time." [Just over a week ago, 16-year-old Ali Alsatrawi was hit and killed by a police jeep as security forces chased protesters.]
The police were mostly Bahraini, and there were some Pakistanis. The riot police [officer] who said that it's his job --- I could tell he was feeling bad. He even brought me a bottle of water; I didn't drink it but thanked him.
Then a policewoman arrived and started dragging me to a civilian car. I sat on the ground & refused to move. I was on the ground and raised both my hands in the sign of victory. The policewoman dragged me to the car.
Then an officer told the police to bring their cars around. He said, "Rioters are probably filming you from four directions now."
I was surrounded by police jeeps, with both my hands raised & a police woman holding down my fingers, so I couldn't make the victory sign.
The officer said to me, "You got what you wanted, get in the car now!" I said, "I got what I wanted?...Why? Did the regime fall?"
That really pissed them off, and the female police said ,"WHY can't I beat her? I could easily get her in the car if you let me!" Police told me, "Listen, more female police are on the way. You will get beaten & arrested if you don't come with us for interrogation"
I ignored their continuous threats. For more than an hour I sat on the ground, until more female police did arrive. I was sure they were going to arrest me because I heard the orders they were given to do just that. But as soon as policewomen arrived, suddenly the orders changed: "Leave her there, back out now."
The female police looked completely confused, "Leave her? What do you mean? Just like that?" "Yes, yes, leave her" was the answer.
I did get a chance to chat a little with the female police [officer], who was holding both my arms & begging to get orders to beat me. She said, "Why won't you just get in?!" I said "I don't follow your orders." She asked, "Yeah, but why?" I said, "Because I'm free to make my decisions."
The policewoman said to me, "I'm free, too" I said, "You could be, but you're not, you're working for oppressors against the oppressed."
She said, "I get what you want to say." I said to her, "Do you get that we're fighting for your rights and ours, not just ours?"
The minute the officer told them to leave me, I got back up, held up the victory sign, & stood in front of the jeeps again.
As I stood there, watching them go back in reverse, I shouted at the top of my lungs "Yasqot Hamad! Yasqot Hamad! (Down Down Hamad)"
I have to thank loads of people, many of them on Twitter. It seems the news got out fast & thats why the orders of arrest were changed.
I also feel sad, that my brothers & sisters, the other protesters, who I would die for, are not protected the way I am. I wish the world cared about every single innocent Bahraini, I wish the government feared to be exposed when they attack any protester.