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Medics continue to be victimized by abusive regime

Bahrain: The continued harassment and persecution of the Medics
6 November, 2011 – BCHR

Beirut, 6 November, 2011 – Bahraini authorities has ordered doctors who treated injured protesters during the government crackdown on Pearl Square, to stop their medical work in the private clinics. Most of the doctors were suspended from their work in Salmaniya hospital during April 2011, after they provided help for injured anti-government protesters in February and March 2011. Twenty medics has been put on trial before the National Safety Court -Military court- and sentenced in September 2011 to prison terms ranging from five to 15 years. They were charged with possessing weapons, occupying the hospital, and inciting hatred of the regime. Medics have said they were only doing their job and treating anyone who needed medical care.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights and the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights have received information and supporting documents show that the National Health Regulatory Authority in Bahrain ordered on November 2, 2011 the doctors to stop their work in private clinics, the only remaining source of income for the medics. This latest step of Bahraini authorities is a clear sign that harassment and persecution of the medics continue. Rula al-Saffar, one of the medics put on trial, told the Guardian that the reasons behind their persecutions “because we are a witness for what happened. We are a witness of the injured people, some of us were there when the hospital was seized…We are accused because we did our job.”

At the height of the protests, security forces stormed the Salmaniya hospital, Bahrain’s main and only public hospital, and arrested dozens of doctors and other health workers. According to one of Salmaniya doctors, he estimates that 500 doctors, nurses and paramedics were called to interrogation where they have been stopped from working or dismissed. Many Bahrainis has accused the government of having made systematic efforts to deny medical services to wounded protesters. It is worth mentioning that the international organization “Doctors Without Borders” stopped working in Bahrain in August 2011 after its offices were also raided.

This new order to stop them from exercising their profession completely might be another move to silence them. Dr Nada Dhaif, a surgeon sentenced to 15 years, told Al Jazeera that the number of doctors being jailed is a “unique case” in the “history of any revolution or unrest, and in the history of medicine.” …more