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Bahraini Arrested outside Cabinet Bldg after Protesting 5-Year Unemployment

2018-07-16 - 7:35 p

Bahrain Mirror: The Bahraini authorities arrested on Sunday (July 15) Bahraini citizen Mohammad Al-Khatem from in front the Cabinet building, after he stood holding a banner that read "I can't find food for my children", protesting against unemployment and his dismissal from work since over 5 years ago.

A large number of Shiite citizens in Bahrain complain about not getting jobs, over reasons related to discrimination and exclusion, in addition to the political targeting of some figures due to their activism, let alone the wave of dismissals that affected thousands of Bahrainis over political reasons in 2011.

Al-Khatem posted about his protest, via his Twitter account, from the moment he started walking towards the Cabinet, until his arrest and his interrogation at the police station and then Public Prosecution, which accused him of assembly. It seems that he was able to use his phone until he was held in custody.

Before his arrest, Khatem published a video stating that he will walk holding his banner from Al-Fateh Mosque to the Cabinet, indicating that the government can reinstate or hire him easily.

At the end, he tweeted "I, Mohammad Khatem, demand to be reinstated me ...I was arrested in front of the Cabinet".

Khatem is a previous prisoner and a father of 4 children. He started tweeting in February. Two days ago, he posted a video of him saying that he was dismissed from his job at the municipalities ministry 5 years ago and that he will take to the street holding this banner and won't return until officials find him a solution, addressing the King, Prime Minister and Crown Prince.

He said in the video that he looked for a job everywhere, but couldn't find any, indicating that his livelihood deteriorated to a very bad level during the past 2 years. Khatem further stated that he is no longer able to provide food and clothes for his children, after the courts confiscated the housing and cost of living allowances, which are aids he receives tom the government, due to financial claims against him from banks.

He stressed that he no longer has a source of income, stating that he sought the help of many groups and wrote about his situation in several places, however, his attempts were in vain.

Activist Ibtisam Al-Saegh said that Khatem "went out in this hot weather where the temperature reached over 40 degrees...demanding a job". She added "because [he went out] in the island where freedom of expression is banned, he was arrested over an assembly charge and didn't find anyone to hear his voice or feel his suffering".

Khatem's step to take to the street is considered a rare kind of protest made by a citizen, since the authorities have tightened their security grip on activists and the opposition since May 2017.

Activists later noted that the authorities dropped the assembly charge against Mohammad Khatem and that his arrest was due to his failure to pay off bank loans.

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