Channel: Bahrain Center for Human Rights
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Can you be happy in Bahrain?


By: David Isaksson

28 December 2013

Over the last years I have been travelling all over the world, going to countries where I have not yet been before and asking people about what it is in their lives that’s makes them happy. The aim is to visit and meet people in 50 countries where I have not yet been, in addition to the about 100 countries that I has visited previously.

The journeys have so far taken me everywhere from Belarus to Cameroon, and even some countries that officially does not exists, such as Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria.

Now, the time had come to visit Bahrain, a small nation state (in fact it is an island) on the Persian gulf with a population of just 750 000 people. During the Arab spring the people in Bahrain demanded freedom and liberty, just like in Egypt, Tunisia, Libyan and Syria. However, the protests where crushed with the help of tanks from Saudi Arabia. Since, then several human rights activists, journalists and others have been jailed. Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders are among those prostesting against the situation in Bahrain.

So, what would make people happy in Bahrain?

The plane from Dubai to Bahrain takes just about one hour. After filling in the emigration documents I present my passport to the immigration official. He looks at it, asks how long I will be here (over the day) and then gives my passport to a superior and asks me to sit and wait. The area behind the passport control is full of senior security officials. A man sitting at the next sofa is summoned: “You are on the blacklist, you have to get back to Riyadh!,” he is being told, and no matter what he says, he is led away to a waiting plane (presumably).

One hour later an officer calls me. He want’s to know what I am doing, what my profession is, if I doesn’t have anything to do with media in my professional life. I explain to him that my company Global Reporting is doing a lot of information and communication work, but that I’m, at the moment, travelling as a tourist while at the same time asking people in different countries about what happiness means for them.

“Why would you like to ask anyone in Bahrain about Happiness?” he asks, before presenting the “evidence”. He has downloaded my presentation for the Global Reporting website: “Is this you?” he asks. And of course it is.

After addition questions about who I know in Bahrain (I don’t know a single person), what I going to do and whom I am to visit I’m asked to wait again while he contact his superiors in the capital. Once again, I’m sitting there on the bench, now surrounded by anxious-looking migrant workers who’s papers might not be in working order.

Another three hours pass while new loads of migrant works comes and goes, together with western expats and occasionally someone who looks like if he or she could be from Bahrain. Are they happy coming back to their country?

Then, the senior migrant official is back. My entry is denied. I am not allowed to entry Bahrain. Instead, he asks about my ticket so he could put me on the next available flight back to Dubai.

So far, I have been visiting about 140 countries, in the great majority of cases without any problems what so ever, even countries such as Belarus and Iran had let me in. In fact, this is the very first time that I have been denied entry to a country that I have not previously been engaged in or covered in on a continuous basis.

Obviously, happiness must be a very dangerous issue in Bahrain.

Continue reading on http://www.globalhappiness.se/content/can-you-be-happy-bahrain

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