38. Bahrain: The power of direct action – and the cost
An activist finds themselves in head-on conflict with their government. Their life is in danger and they make the decision to go into exile. They’re able to find somewhere that will take them in. But what then? Do they sigh with relief and keep a low profile? Do they stay engaged in the struggle but leave the frontline work to others? Or do they double-down on publicly challenging the oppression that drove them from their home country? Bahraini activist Sayed Al Wadaei was jailed for his part in Arab Spring protests and hounded after his release. In 2012 he felt obliged to go into exile. Having secured asylum in the United Kingdom he wasted little time in adopting high-profile tactics to embarrass and shame Bahrain’s rulers, a path that has brought increased personal risk and high cost to his family. Al Wadaei, co-founder of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, spoke to us in August 2023 about the choices an exiled activist faces and how he reacted when his country raised the stakes.
And in the Coda, a Venezuelan rights investigator on what poetry can do that activists can’t.