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US-backed Bahrain regime continues to imprison Doctors, Surgeons and Nurses who helped victims of government brutality in ER

US-backed Bahrain regime upholds jail sentences for doctors and nurses
By Will Morrow – 28 June, 2012 – WSWS

The US-backed Bahraini dictatorship of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa on June 14 upheld jail sentences of up to five years for medics rounded up during fierce repression of anti-government protests in 2011.

Twenty doctors and nurses from the Salmaniya Medical Complex in the capital, Manama, were sentenced to between five and 15 years in prison by a military court in September 2011. The attorney general allowed a civilian retrial amid mass outrage at the convictions.

Throughout the proceedings the defendants were prevented from speaking, as they insisted they had been tortured into giving signed confessions. The medics have been on bail since late last year, unable to return to work.

In the latest ruling, orthopaedic surgeon Ali Alekri was sentenced to five years jail, down from fifteen, and Ibrahim al-Damstani, the Bahraini Nursing Society secretary general, will face three years, according to AFP. Seven others have been handed sentences of one year or less, and the remaining nine who appealed their convictions were acquitted. Two did not appeal their sentences and are reported to have fled the country.

The medics’ arrest in March 2011 was part of a campaign of repression and intimidation by security forces. A protest encampment in Manama’s Pearl Roundabout, calling for the downfall of the regime, was crushed by tanks and troops brought from the neighbouring despotic gulf states Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

Security forces repeatedly raided hospitals looking for injured patients to arrest. The sole “crime” of the medics was treating civilians who were beaten, shot and gassed during this repression. At least sixty protesters have been killed by security forces since February last year, though the real figure is likely far higher.

In a statement following the recent ruling, the government attempted to claim the convictions were not for treating protesters. Making clear the political character of the charges, it asserted that the doctors and nurses were guilty of “politicising their profession, breaching medical ethics and… their call and involvement in the overthrow of the monarchy.” The government has not attempted to explain how it obtained signed confessions of guilt from those who have now been acquitted entirely.

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