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We Are the Giant: Bahrain’s Top Family of Activists Pays Heavy Price for Challenging US-Backed Gov’t

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Reconciliation talks between Bahrain’s ruling monarchy and opposition groups have resumed amidst a continued crackdown on dissidents. The Bahraini government has waged a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters since an uprising broke out in February 2011. The U.S.-backed monarchy is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is responsible for all naval forces in the Gulf. Bahrain is a key strategic asset in the region because it directly faces Iran. "We are the Giant," a new documentary premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, looks at the situation in Bahrain through the lens of a prominent family of activists, the Alkhawajas. The well-known human rights attorney Abdulhadi Alkhawaja is serving a life sentence, while his outspoken daughter, Zainab, is also behind bars. We are joined by Maryam Alkhawaja, who currently serves as acting president the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, while living in forced exile.

 

 

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMYGOODMAN: We are broadcasting from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, as we turn now to Bahrain, where reconciliation talks between the ruling monarchy and opposition groups have resumed amidst a continued crackdown on dissidents. On Tuesday, Shiite opposition groups reportedly met with a Royal Court minister and expressed hope for a new start to a stalled national dialogue. The Bahraini government has waged a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters since an uprising broke out in February of 2011. The U.S.-backed monarchy is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which is responsible for all naval forces in the Gulf. Bahrain is a key strategic asset in the region because it directly faces Iran.

Well, a new documentary here at Sundance looks at the situation in Bahrain through the lens of a prominent family of activists. Directed by Greg Barker, the documentary is called We are the Giant. In this clip, we hear from Zainab Alkhawaja, followed by her sister Maryam.

ZAINABALKHAWAJA: For centuries, a lot of Arabs have been feeling that no matter what I do, this is not going to change, nothing is going to change in this country. Without hope, you’re not going to get anywhere, because you have to actually believe that this is going somewhere. And that’s why I can’t quit, I can’t give up.

Where are our rights? Do our lives not matter unless there are cameras here? This is my question.

I’ve been arrested maybe seven times, I think. I’ve been beaten, and I’ve been injured. And I have more than 13 cases against me in court. I do feel guilty when I leave my daughter for a long while, when she wakes up in the middle of the night worried that I’m going to prison. Just last night, she woke up, and she woke me up to tell me, "Please don’t go to jail." And I never told her that I went to jail, but she hears stuff. You know, kids are so smart. And she wakes me up, and she tells me, "Don’t go to prison.

Read the full transcript on http://www.democracynow.org/2014/1/24/we_are_the_giant_bahrains_top#.UuKKTPz8_4U

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