On May 7, students of the Arab Uprisings elective and their teachers, Debra McCall and Carrie Clark attended a screening of We Are the Giant in Manhattan. They were invited to the event by Brian Dooley, director of the Human Rights Defenders program at Human Rights First (HRF), who spoke at Ross School’s graduation ceremony in 2013.
The film profiles activists on the ground in Libya, Syria, and Bahrain during the 2011 Arab Spring and beyond. The movie introduces the al-Khawaja sisters, Zainab and Maryam, daughters of human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). He is currently serving a life sentence in a Bahrain prison for his non-violent resistance against an oppressive monarchy that has ruled Bahrain since 1783. The film portrays each of the sisters’ efforts on behalf of their family and country to advocate for peaceful regime change in Bahrain.
“We discussed the film in class after the screening, and many were particularly moved by a scene showing a young girl singing an innocent song when she suddenly disappears in an explosion (the girl lived). It was a memorable and humbling experience for them to meet Maryam and be inspired by her indomitable spirit and her commitment to human rights, non-violent resistance, and the people of Bahrain,” Debra said.
One student has followed Maryam’s suggestion to contact her in order to write young dissenters of her own age in Bahrain.