A Bahraini family keeps their son alive by following in the footsteps that led to his death

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Aaron Schacter: The small island nation of Bahrain was one of those places confused by protests during the Arab Spring now Bahrain that doesn't mean the protests that started in 2011 are over in fact they have continued all along that is according to Elizabeth Dickinson a journalist based in Abidoubou (sp) whose e book called, “Who shot Ahmed?” first published by a group called the development and aid world news service. Dickinson tells the story of Ahmed Ismel Hassan Smati a young man who was shot and killed while he was videotaping a protest of in 2012.

Elizabeth Dickinson: Ahmed was a young man who was really energized by everything that started happening at the Arab's Spring. Ahmed was a store clerk during the days. He was really just the average kid that you know from the neighborhood. One of his passions was photography, and when the uprising first started he saw what happened in Egypt, in Tunisia and realized that photography and video was going to be so important in organizing and bringing people together for these types of demonstrations. So he jumped in and saw it has his mission to record what was happening in ???

Schacter: He is a Shiite living in a Sunni in that country right? And that makes a difference?

Elizabeth Dickinson: So he is a member of the Shiite community and the majority of Bahrain is Shiite it is not a large majority but is about 640/40% but the country is ruled by Sunni leaders. And for a long time there has been tensions over whether there has been discrimination on the kingdom. So for example if government is giving jobs to the Shiite community if Shiite's are living in certain area which aren't as well serviced as well with things like hospitals and electricity and such.

Schacter: Are there lots of young men, as you suggested, demonstrating against the government, why Ahmed's story what drew you to him?

Elizabeth Dickinson: Well during one of my visits to Bahrain in the early days of the uprising if you remember a lot of the momentum of the protests would go up and down depending on what was happening. I happened to arrive the day after Ahmed died and everyone was talking about Ahmed's death. I think it wasn’t because he was the most recent person to die it was because everyone felt like they could relate to him. He was so young, he was so hopeful by all accounts he was a quiet normal boy and the fact that he got caught up in this violence touched people personally. For me I was able to go and talk to Ahmed's family the day after he died I witnessed and saw close personally and how they were mourning. I saw how difficult it was for his sisters and brothers. As I was leaving Ahmed's sister took my hand and she said to me in the voice I can't forget I want to see you again. I didn't forget that.

Schacter: Now in one part of your e book you say Bahrain is the Middle East's forgotten revolution is it still going on there? Has it been snuffed out by the government, where do things stand?

Elizabeth Dickinson: Well this is one of the amazing things about Bahrain, that continues to amaze me every single day that I cover it, if you go to Bahrain any day of the week you will find a protest at least in one of the villages that is going on. The persistence of this uprising is really jarring. It is surprising as an outsider to see that there is very little national press, no one is watching and these protests continue to go on.

Schacter: What about Ahmed's family, they have lost a son now, do they think about joining protests or has this driven them away?

Elizabeth Dickinson: As I have gone back to visit Ahmed's family over the months it has been amazing to see how much it has affected them. Before Ahmed died members of his family , his father for example would very rarely go to protests. This was sort of an average family not really very politicized. After Ahmed's death all that seemed to change , Ahmed was sort of kept alive by members of his family. His father took up his filiming, now almost every week at least at one of the protests you will see Ahmed's father carrying his son's camera filming the protest carrying on the same way that Ahmed did. Meanwhile other members of his family have picked up other parts, some of them are active online, some of them write and do community organizing . Basically they have become stronger members of the opposition because of what happened to their son then they ever would have done before.

Schacter: Reporter Elizabeth Dickinson thank you for your time.

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