A child outlines his father's arrest: "They broke our door, tear my photos from the wall...."
An EA correspondent posts this eyewitness report from a major declaration of protest by tens of thousands in Bahrain:
After stopping their gatherings for the religious occasion of Ashura, six opposition political parties organised a mass rally last Friday on "Human Rights Violations in Bahrain".
The gathering attracted a crowd of about 40,000. The rally had the standard format of four short speeches and the playing of the national anthem; however, the Twitter message of New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof, criticizing the use of Molotovs in one of the villages during a crackdown by security forces, led to a spontaneous address by Nabeel Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Center of Human Rights.
The first speech was given by the human right activist and member of Amal, Fahmi AbdulSaheb, he addressed in his speech:
- Freedom is assured in most human rights charters.
- What distinguishes this International Day of Human Rights is the clear and flagrant human rights violations, confirmed by various organizations, that have been committed by the Bahraini Government .
- The infringement of human rights in Bahrain, established by the fact-finding report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry --- despite our reservations about it --- proves much our people have suffered.
- We emphasise the demand for the direct and unconditional release of the political prisoners and all detainees, especially women.
- We demand a stop to all trials that challenge the right of citizens to express their opinion freely. And we demand a fair investigation of all those responsible of the murder of the martyrs.
Labour activist Kareem Radhi followed:
- Labour'ss rights, defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, have undoubtedly been violated in Bahrain with the dismissal of workers.
- We insist on the right for the dismissed to return to their work immediately --- we will not accept any substitute such as compensation.
- This is a basic principle: laying off people from their jobs for expressing their opinion, for writing on Facebook or Twitter, or for their labour activism is illegal.
Mrs. Fareeda Ghulam, a Waad member and the wife of the detained Ebrahim Sharif, the Secretary General of Waad political party, told the crowd:
- On this Human Rights Day, the rights of thousands of Bahraini citizens have been violated.
- The BICI report exposed how martyrs were killed in the prisons and the ridiculous justifications of the Government for their deaths.
- On this day, we are determined to continue the peaceful campaign for our rights, a campaign which people have waged for decades.
- The concept of torturers and prisoners being able to skip away must change, especially after the regime's law that excludes them from being questioned.
Following the playing of national anthems by the band of the opposition group Al Wefaq, former MP and Al Wefaq member Sayed Hadi Almousawi addressed the audience.
- We have 48 candles for the blood of each martyr shed by the terrible power of the security forces.
- Even after the BICI report, the Government continues its attempt to escape responsibilities. We did not even hear an apology from a minister.
- We demand the immediate resignation of this Government.
- In the month since the last time we met, there are four new martyrs. Today I met some martyrs' families --- the mother of the martyr, the son of the martyr, the father of martyr. This is how Bahraini families are living.
The father of a victim of the clashes joined Sayed Hadi on the stage to give him the Bahraini flag; the audience chanted, "We'll sacrifice our souls and blood for the martyrs." Sayed Hadi then asid:
- I advise you to read the BICI report about the bad status of this Government. Its 60 stories represents and more than 1800 cases outlines the criminality of the government, with the declaration of its ministers that no torture were conducted by them.
- Some members of the National Committee [ordered by the King to act on the BICI recommendations] will filter the report from its content, turning it to the benefit of the government who violated the rights of citizens.
- Some ministers are accused in such violations. How they are members in this Committee.
As the speech ended, people started leaving the rally, but with the announcement that Nabeel Rajab would speak, they rushed back.
Rajab began with praise for the participation of women in the protest, "I am very proud of this and proud to be part of this nation and these crowds....[This] has been one of the facts I brag about in my meetings with the international community."
Rajab then responded to the message of Nick Kristof --- "he is one of the best-known journalists in the world and he has more than one million followers on Twitter" --- that protesting youth in Jidhafs village have thrown Molotovs at the police, which "hugely undermines their revolution".
As the crowds chanted, "Peaceful, Peaceful", Rajab said, "I would add my voice to that of Nick about this matter:
I do not have any doubt that with this determination and steadfastness, which I see in all of you, we will be victorious and will achieve our goals....However, we must continue being peaceful. There are many who are following the Bahrain situation, and the regime is trying to shift our movement from the pathon which it started with. All around the world the Bahrain uprising is known to be the most peaceful revolution among the movements of the Arab Spring. Let's continue keeping it this way.
Rajab emphasised advances on the international front, "French officials have promised to stop selling weapons to the regime, and we are using the same pressure over the [$53 million] US arms deal....[We have] succeeded in keeping the Bahrain topic on the table in the White-House and the Congress":
All that would not have been achieved without your continued protests and the steadfastness you showed....You cannot imagine how much respect you have gained from the international community by continuing your fight, I cannot express enough how much the world is looking up to you all, and its respect for your revolution. Mr. Nabeel ended his speech by insisting on continuing the fight for freedom and emphasizing more on being peaceful.
As people left the rally, location most chanted, "Down with [King] Hamad".