Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Bahrain and A Taste of Heaven

The past few weeks my world has, maybe once again, been torn apart. My sleep has been taken as I have been haunted by images of torture and feeling the pain of suffering that takes place when a parent is separated from their child.

It all began just a few weeks ago when I was watching the BBC news. I saw the news report regarding 20 medics who had been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison in Bahrain which had struck a chord of empathy within me, since I am a mother, and a doctor's wife. I wanted to do something to help these people and thought maybe I could use my website MedWorm to raise awareness about their plight and start a campaign of support.

Of course with social media these days the World is a much smaller place. It is very easy to reach a wide audience. After doing some initial research I posted a video message of my feelings regarding the matter online and I placed a link to the video from the MedWorm RSS feeds that sent it out to hundreds of medical subscribers and other medical websites. Within a few days it had been watched over 2,000 times.

I started Tweeting about the matter and decided I should build a website for the campaign, and soon I found myself communicating directly with the medics who offered to post a few words on my site. I asked them for some background information on each of them, a few photos and a written testimony as to what had happened to each of them, in their own words.

What I was totally unprepared to receive were accounts of terrible torture which were very traumatic to read, and I know far more traumatic for the medics to write as they explained to me that these were memories that they would rather forget and had pushed to the back of their mind as they were too painful to recall. However, faced with up to 15 years in prison they felt they had no option but to speak up now about what had happened otherwise they would soon be going back to the Hell from which they had only recently thought they had been released from.

You can read some of their testimonies on the Doctors In Chains website here. Others I will be posting in the coming days.

It is hard to understand what it must feel like to be living under the constant threat of your house being broken into in the middle of the night and you being abducted in front of your children by masked gunmen. But as I have got to know and love these doctors and nurses over the past few weeks, the situation in Bahrain has felt very real and near to me. Already of nervous disposition, I find myself from time to time panicking and I have to calm myself down, to remind myself that I live in the safety of the UK where my human rights and freedom of speech are protected.

Part of me would rather run away from all of this and pretend it just isn't happening, like it just isn't my problem and has nothing to do with me. But I know that it is exactly that kind of attitude that allows such abuses of human rights to occur in the first place. If I turned away when I knew I could do something to help, I would be just as guilty as the people doing this stuff in the first place. So I have no choice. I just have to swallow my insecurities and speak up. It is only when ordinary people in countries that have freedom of speech start to exercise this liberty on behalf of those who do not that the World will ever see change. And change it must, if I am to have any hope for my children.

It was about 13 years ago that I was travelling through a time of personal spiritual exploration. I went to sleep after praying somewhat egotistically that God might reveal to me in my dreams a little bit of what Heaven is like. And I did go on a journey that night, which I will never forget. But not to Heaven, but rather to Hell. I was taken to a place that was just out of sight, but right next to a busy street, where I saw the most horrific scenes of horror and depravity that I had never even imagined could exist. So awful that I cannot begin to describe. Scenes of torture and perversion that made me want to wretch. In my dream I was terrified and left one room of evil to come across another, and another, and another. I was so scared that I wanted to get away, and so did everyone that was there, but the more we all tried to escape the worse things became. People were in need of help, but no-one would help because of their fear.

When I reached what may have been the last room I said to myself that I didn't care any more, everything was so awful, I just had to help someone, even if that would be dangerous to do so. I turned to someone on a torture rack and helped them down, and then the place became less awful, and then other people started to do the same, and the evil just started to fade away. The rooms changed colour and flowers started to grow, and brick walls started to fade away to nothing. And then I woke up.

I was shocked, stunned, somewhat traumatised. I shared what I had dreamt with one lady who was older and wiser than myself. I felt people might think I was a little crazy at the time, but she understood and said she had had a similar dream once herself. As I get older this dream, that awful journey, starts to make sense.

I believe in the Power of Love. I really do. I believe violence breeds violence, and hatred breeds hatred. But I believe in the Power of Love, and I believe one day it will conquer all. With all my heart. This is my hope that I hold on to in times of despair.

So what is love, really? And how can it be applied?

I was thinking about this image:

Now what if one of those military men had got out of their tanks, walked up to this demonstrator and given him a hug. How would that have turned out? You might laugh, but I bet it would have diffused the situation better than bullets.

And what about this image of the demonstrator about to be shot at short range? (yeh I've seen the video explaining that he was shot by a blanks which I was relieved to see, but just hear me out):

What if instead of shooting the protester they tried to shake his hand? He was near enough to do that. What would have been his reaction if they did?

And what about these people demonstrating? I understand their anger. Really I do. But what if they held up flowers instead of clenching their fists? And replaced their anger with love? And instead of shouting they sang? Like what happened here.

I believe in the Power of Love. I really do. And I think love is not about anger. It is about hope and endurance. I believe love is the most powerful emotion of all.

“I strongly believe that love is the answer and that it can mend even the deepest unseen wounds. Love can heal, love can console, love can strengthen, and yes, love can make change.”
Somaly Mam, The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine


  1. All you need is love. Hopefully, the truth will help people to overcome their fear and show their love. Thank you for caring.

  2. Hello Frankie,

    I just saw your comment on my Troy Media piece on Nasser Al Raas. Thanks for the Youtube interview link and for this excellent blog post. I enjoyed reading about your dream as well. You can email me directly if you like by looking up my profile on Simon Fraser University's CCSMSC page.

    Eva S.

  3. Hi Frankie,

    I feel your pain and commend you for taking a strong stand. I guess the first time I felt the same way was when I heard the mosques yelling at some early hour in the morning back in February. This is not usual, as you know, but the call was different, the Imam sounded distressed. Something had happened. I switched on my phone and I had messages from friends, I switched on Al Jazeera and it was there, in front of me: the security forces had attacked the Pearl camp, only a couple of miles away from us, in a vicious manner, at 3 am. Families were injured, children missing. Thats when it hit me and thats when I turned from an expat who didn't like to meddle in local politics to the person I am now.

    I love Bahrain, I love Bahrainis and its the utter horror that i felt that morning is what spurs me on.

  4. I was there when it started and I was amazed and impressed by the Bahrainis who said that the Arab Spring would be different in Bahrain. They didn't want to get rid of the Royal Family. They wanted to participate in government. I felt the same shock as brightontaxi1 when I saw on Al Jazeera News what happened at the roundabout.

    The protestors include people who can trace their families back a thousand years and more. Bahrain is their country. They don't mind if the Al Khalifas live there, but they want fairness.

    I appreciate the call for "love" but we are dealing with a group of people who just don't get it. They are the ruling "family and friends" and they genuinely cannot see the protestors point of view. You find this in every society. However, in this society, the ruling family and friends are not particularly nice.

    The protestors are fully aware that the only thing that will help is outside intervention. Public awareness is crucial and this blog is a wonderful way to do this.

    I love Bahrain. I like Shias and I like Sunnis. But I'm not so sure that I like Al Khalifas, because they are the leaders and they are the ones creating the divisions. It would be good if just one of them stepped up.