Bahrain hit by doctors’ desertion
Robert Fisk – 24 March, 2013 – Pacific Free Press
Bahrain’s already tarnished reputation for human rights will receive a body blow today with the cancellation of a major conference on medical ethics in the tiny island monarchy, and the resignation of the Irish director of Bahrain’s principal medical school.
At least 20 civilians were killed by government forces – opposition leaders say the figures is four times as great – in the failed uprising by the majority Shia Muslim community against the minority Sunni-led government of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa two years ago. Security forces stormed hospitals in the kingdom and tortured patients in medical care, tearing apart the hitherto non-sectarian health service. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) – which trained many of the doctors later arrested by the regime – was bitterly criticised after the violence for not condemning government brutality.
But Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will today announce its decision to cancel next month’s international meeting – in which medical and human rights experts were to speak for two days on “medical ethics and dilemmas in situations of political discord or violence” – while Professor Tom Collins, president of the Medical University of Bahrain, will tell his 1,100 students and 240 staff at lunchtime that he is resigning in protest at the cancellation. The university is run by the RCSI and was co-sponsor of the conference with MSF.
At least 40 Bahraini doctors, many of them attached to the RCSI medical university on the island, were arrested and charged after the mini-uprising of 2011 – four are still in prison – although Professor Collins has pleaded for their release. A prestigious roster of speakers was to have included Professor Patrick Roe, the president of RCSI, a consultant general surgeon at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, Anastasia Crickley of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and Baroness Nuala O’Loan, Northern Ireland’s first – and highly controversial – police ombudsman from 2000 to 2007. Many attribute Catholic trust in the new Police Service of Northern Ireland to the work of Lady O’Loan. The organisers were to show a film, Access to the Danger Zone, on MSF doctors in Afghanistan and other wars, narrated by Daniel Day-Lewis …more
March 25, 2013 No Comments
US-backed Bahrain regime continues to imprison Doctors, Surgeons and Nurses who helped victims of government brutality in ER
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.
June 28, 2012 No Comments
November 29th, 2011- NPR
Listen to the Audio Clip HERE
As the revolutions collectively known as “the Arab Spring” have rocked the Middle East and North Africa, medical professionals have often been caught in the crossfire. Dictators like Bashar Al-Assad in Syria and the late Moammar Gadhafi in Libya have threatened, imprisoned, tortured and killed doctors who dared treat the protesters and rebels threatening their regimes. In Bahrain, government agents have attacked physicians, medical staff, patients, and unarmed civilians with the use of bird shot, physical beatings, rubber bullets, tear gas, and unidentified chemical agents, and convicted them of trumped up charges. Joining us to discuss doctors under siege in the Arab world, and the pursuit of “medical neutrality” on Capitol Hill and in the United Nations, is RICHARD SOLLOM, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights, who has led recent investigative expeditions into Bahrain and Libya. We’ll also hear from ADIL SHAMOO, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and senior analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, who thinks the U.S. medical community should support their colleagues in Bahrain more vigorously. …source
December 7, 2011 No Comments
By Adil E. Shamoo – November 7, 2011 – FPIP
Bahraini medical personnel protesting in Manama (Photo: Dr. Nabeel al Ansari).The United States continues to ignore the thwarted Arab Spring in Bahrain. Recently, a quasi-military court in the small Gulf state sentenced 20 doctors and nurses to up to 15 years in jail. The charge against them? Treating injured demonstrators opposing the regime.
Doctors and nurses in the Middle East have a long and proud tradition of treating the ill, regardless of the situation. In ninth-century Baghdad, for example, Hunayn ibn Ishaq was the Caliph’s physician. The Caliph asked this physician to prepare a poison to kill his enemies. The physician refused, risking his life, and was eventually jailed for one year. After serving his sentence, the Caliph inquired as to why he refused. The physician replied, “My profession is instituted for the benefit of humanity and limited to their relief and cure.”
So the doctors and other healthcare providers in Bahrain who treated the injured demonstrators were acting not only in the noblest tradition of the Hippocratic Oath but also in keeping with centuries-old Arab tradition. Medical ethics requires all physicians to be medically neutral toward those they treat.
Last February, Bahrain’s citizens joined the Arab Spring by holding massive demonstrations against the country’s corrupt, minority royal government. Bahrain’s security forces, assisted by Saudi-led troops sent by the Gulf Cooperation Council, brutally suppressed the peaceful demonstrations by force, resulting in the deaths of around 30 people, as well as hundreds of others wounded and arrested. At least 1,200 people were dismissed from their jobs. Opposition leaders were arrested, quickly tried, and sent to jail. Many detainees were tortured, and some women were sexually abused.
The government of Bahrain soon turned its attention to doctors and other healthcare providers, arresting, jailing, and torturing those accused of treating protesters. One female doctor told NPR that she was tortured and threatened with rape. In the same story, a man claimed that he was beaten unconscious. The authorities threatened the arrested individuals, saying that the security forces would arrest and torture members of their families if they didn’t sign a confession.
The doctors and nurses in Bahrain have called for support from the international community, especially from the United States. But the U.S. State Department has been muted in its comments about Bahrain’s abuse of hospital staff. This has led some medical professionals and other observers to lament that if such abuses had occurred in Syria or Iran, the United States would have condemned them vocally and emphatically.
U.S. policy toward the Arab Spring has been two-faced and unprincipled since its outbreak. When a hostile regime – in Syria or Iran, for example – has abused human rights, the administration has taken the moral high ground. However, in the case of friendly regimes – like those in Bahrain, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia – the administration has toned down its criticism or remained silent altogether. In the case of Bahrain, the United States still maintains a naval base there with 15,000 personnel.
The British Medical Association (BMA) issued a statement strongly condemning Bahrain’s behavior, stating, “BMA is shocked that these doctors are being persecuted for acting in accordance with their code of ethics.” The World Medical Association issued a similar statement. However, the American Medical Association merely invited physicians, if they wish, to write directly to Bahrain’s rulers to voice their opinion. The U.S. bioethics associations are silent.
Over the course of history, humanity has carved out zones of ethical conduct, whether in the conduct of war or the treatment of the sick and wounded. Medical ethics has a long and honorable history that U.S. officials and medical professionals must uphold for the doctors and nurses in Bahrain. Otherwise, the Arab Spring won’t bloom for long. …source
November 7, 2011 No Comments
Latest News regarding Bahrain’s Doctors in Chains:
On 23rd October the medics went back to court, unsure whether it was for an appeal or a retrial. The Public Prosecution dropped a few of the lesser charges and stated that a retrial would begin, starting on 28th November. The trial will be open to the public. We encourage everyone to write to their government to encourage them to send representatives to observe the proceedings to ensure a fair trial. This is a fact sheet handed out by the Public Prosecution in court on 23rd October regarding the proceedings: Public Prosecution statement on 23 Oct 2011 distributed in Appeal Court HERE
This is the response from the medics’ lawyers, released on 24th Oct: Arabic & English Medics’ Lawyers statement in reply to PP statement on 23 October 2011
In the name of God the most merciful and precious
Statement by the Lawyer of the Bahraini Medics regarding the Start of the Hearings before the Criminal High Court of Appeal The Criminal High Court of Appeal yesterday, 23rd October 2011, held its first hearings of the appeals filed by the Medical Staff and also by the Public Prosecution. In a precedent considered the first of its kind in the history of the Courts of Bahrain, the Public Prosecution distributed among the persons attending the Court hearing, just a few minutes before the hearing started, an English statement printed on the Public Prosecution’s letterhead papers, consisting of three pages. The statement was entitled “Fact Sheet for Hearing of 23.10.2011.”
In our capacity as the defense lawyers for the Medical Staff charged in the Case, we hereby lay our response to the Public Prosecution’s statement and also what the Public Prosecution’s representative recorded in the hearing minutes, as follows:
First: There is difference in the charges put against the Medical Staff before the Court of Appeal and those which were put against them before the military National Safety Court. The Public
Prosecution, for example, dropped three minor charges out of 14 charges put against them. The three charges which the Public Prosecution dropped from the list of charges are only misdemeanors
the punishment for which does not exceed a maximum of three years’ prison term. Those three misdemeanors are:
1. Public incitement of hatred to the ruling regime or showing contempt towards it, which is punishable according to Article 165 of the Penal Code. Statement by the Lawyer of the Bahraini Medics regarding the Start of the Hearings before the Criminal High Court of Appeal 1
2. Publicly broadcasting false or malicious news or statements which are detrimental to the public interest, which is punishable by Article 168 of the Penal Code.
3. Inciting others, by any method of publication, not to comply with the applicable laws or to do any act that constitutes a crime, which is punishable by Article 173 of the Penal Code.
Therefore, it is clear that the Public Prosecution maintained all charges against the Medical Staff the constitute felonies, which are the most grave and serious, mainly the following:
1. Occupying a public hospital which is punishable with up to life imprisonment as per Article 149 of the Penal Code.
2. Possessing arms without license which is punishable with up to 15 years’ imprisonment as per Article 7 of the Explosives and Arms Law.
3. Detaining public servants and preventing them of carrying their duties which is punishable with up to 15 years’ imprisonment as per Article 357 of the Penal Code.
4. Promoting the overthrow of the political system of the State by force which is punishable with up to 10 years’ imprisonment as per Article 160 of the Penal Code.
Practically speaking, dropping the said three minor charges by the Public Prosecution will have no impact on the prison sentences passed against the Medical Staff, in case the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling handed down by the military National Safety Court for any of the felony charges above-mentioned. This is because according to Article 66 of the Penal Code, a single punishment
which is that or the gravest offense will be applied. .FULLTEXT HERE
October 24, 2011 No Comments
by Fiona Godlee, editor, BMJ – firstname.lastname@example.org – 7-Oct.2011
Many of you will have been following the fate of the 20 Bahraini doctors and other health professionals caught up in the prodemocracy demonstrations in February. After being arrested and in some cases tortured, the doctors were then put through what Amnesty International has called a “sham” trial, and despite international pressure on Bahrain’s government, they were last week given “ludicrous” sentences of up to 15 years (doi:10.1136/bmj.d6336). Another 27 health professionals are facing lesser charges and awaiting verdicts.
Charged with playing a key role in inciting hatred of the regime, distributing false news, and refusing to treat Sunni patients, the doctors say they have been persecuted for treating wounded anti-government protestors. Most of them worked at Bahrain’s only major medical centre, which became the epicentre of the unrest. The doctors deny sectarian bias in treating patients.
News of the sentences has caused outrage among medical and human rights groups. In what Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) calls “the most extreme violations of medical neutrality in the past half century,” commentators from around the world agree that the doctors are being punished for doing what international codes of medical ethics require—treating all patients regardless of their political, ethnic, or religious allegiance (doi:10.1136/bmj.d2768). In light of the events in Bahrain, PHR has called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to appoint a special rapporteur on medical neutrality.
[Read more →]
October 7, 2011 No Comments
October 6, 2011 No Comments
October 3, 2011 No Comments
September 30, 2011 No Comments
Medicals around the world outraged – Bahrain regime shows no shame in destruction of the lives of those who save lives
Calls for persecution of health providers to cease
Media Contact – Megan Prock – Tel: 617-301-4237 -Cell: 617-510-3417 – Cambridge, Mass – 09/29/2011
PHR denounces the guilty verdicts and harsh sentences issued in Bahrain against 20 medical professionals and two protestors on September 29. The medics were convicted for providing care to protestors during the country’s popular uprising earlier this year. PHR calls on the government of Bahrain to set aside the verdicts and not carry out the sentences.
“These are medical professionals who were treating patients during a period of civil unrest, as their ethical duty requires them to do. To imprison them as part of a political struggle is unconscionable,” said PHR’s Chief Policy Officer, Hans Hogrefe.
PHR has continually challenged the legitimacy of the charges against the medics. The medical professionals being charged are civilians who have been arrested and interrogated by military prosecutors, and then tried by a hybrid military court. This does not meet with the minimum standard of a fair trial. These convictions demonstrate a clear disregard for human rights on the part of the Bahraini authorities and are in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which was ratified by the Kingdom of Bahrain.
In April, PHR released the report Do No Harm, which detailed Bahrain’s systematic attacks on physicians, medical staff, and patients. PHR has continually condemned the human rights violations of all civilians during the popular uprising, and has called for all to receive fair trials.
PHR has also received reports of torture of the detainees and a significant decline in the detainees’ health while in detention.
“We are gravely concerned that Bahraini judges have not given these torture allegations sufficient consideration in their final verdict and that any confessions may well have been forced and are therefore invalid,” said Deputy Director Richard Sollom, who authored PHR’s April report.
“We believe the Kingdom of Bahrain still has time to act before the doctors are arrested and taken to prison,” said Hogrefe. “In the past, leading medical organizations have called for the release of the doctors. Today we call on the voices of medical professionals worldwide to urge the government of Bahrain to set aside the verdicts and not carry out the sentences.”
PHR has been told by sources inside Bahrain that the following sentences have been passed on 20 medical professionals:
1. Dr. Ali Al-Ekri ( 15 Years )
2. Dr. Nader Diwani ( 15 Years )
3. Dr. Ahmed Abdul Aziz Omran ( 15 Years )
4. Dr. Mahmoud Asghar ( 15 Years )
5. Rola Al Saffar ( 15 Years )
6. Dr. Abdulkhaleq Al-Oraibi ( 15 Years )
7. Dr. Ghassan Dhaif ( 15 Years )
8. Dr. Bassim Dhaif ( 15 Years )
9. Sayed Marhoon Al-Wedaie ( 15 Years )
10. Dr. Nada Dhaif ( 15 Years )
11. Dr. Fatima Haji ( 5 Years )
12. Dheya Ibrahim AbuIdris ( 5 Years )
13. Dr. Najah Khalil Al-Haddad ( 5 Years )
14. Dr. Saeed Al-Samahiji ( 10 Years )
15. Dr. Zahra Al-Sammak ( 5 Years )
16. Ali Hassan Alsddi ( 15 Years )
17. Ibrahim Abdullah Ibrahimn ( 15 Years )
18. Hassan Mohammed Said ( 10 Years )
19. Mohammed Faiq Ali ( 5 Years )
20. Qassim Mohammed Omran ( 15 Years )
September 29, 2011 No Comments
Posted on 2011/09/29 – Front Line Defenders
Medical Care Criminalized in Bahrain Front Line Defenders Deplores Prison Sentences Handed Down to Doctors and Nurses in Bahrain
Dublin, Ireland, September 29, 2011 – Front Line Defenders condemns in the strongest terms the sentencing today by the Bahrain National Safety Court of First Instance of 20 medical staff to prison sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years following a deeply flawed and unfair trial. Among those sentenced are Dr. Ali Al Ekri, Dr. Bassim Dhaif, and Dr. Ghassan Dhaif all of whom were trained at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and received 15-year sentences. Among those receiving 5-year prison sentences were Dr. Zahra Al-Sammak, who also trained in Dublin; Dr. Fatima Haji, who was a lecturer at the RCSI campus in Bahrain; and Ms. Rola Al-Saffar, President of the Bahrain Nursing Society.
Professor Damian McCormack, orthopaedic surgeon, who led an Irish fact-finding delegation to Bahrain in July, was outraged by the sentencing: “This is an utterly abhorrent decision by the Bahraini court. It is beyond belief the doctors, nurses and other medical workers could be treated as criminals for providing medical care to the injured. It is time for RCSI to reconsider its relationship with Bahrain, if there is to be no respect for the medical profession.”
The trial and subsequent sentencing of the medics is the latest instance of human rights violations that members of the medical profession have been subjected to over the last six months, including arbitrary arrest and detention, intimidation, loss of employment, torture and ill-treatment, malicious prosecutions, prolonged incommunicado detention, smear campaigns, sexual assaults and death threats.
Front Line Defenders has repeatedly raised deep concerns with the Bahraini authorities about violations meted out to members of the medical profession, including their unfair trial. Mary Lawlor, Director of Front Line Defenders said in response to the sentencing: “The sentencing of these medical workers, who were upholding their professional, moral and legal responsibilities to treat the injured is unjust and will stand as a historic low for respect the most basic human rights and humanitarian principles.”
The organization considers the trial of the doctors before the National Safety Court to be unconstitutional and grossly unfair. The Bahraini Constitution prohibits the trial of civilians before military courts and does not allow the establishment of a military prosecution system except during Martial Law. The operation of military prosecution is not allowed in Bahrain during a National Safety State.
Among the irregularities which have marked the trial of the medics were the failure of National Safety Court to investigate allegations of torture and the use of excessive force during their arrest; incommunicado detention for weeks without access to their families and lawyers; and extraction of confessions under torture and duress.
The trial and sentencing of the medical professionals represent a dark page in the history of Bahrain. The scale of brutality and injustice visited on doctors is unprecedented not only in the region, but internationally. The persecution of medical personnel on this scale has not been witnessed in any other country in the region despite widespread protests. The effort by the government of Bahrain to criminalize medical care is thus a dangerous precedent if allowed to stand.
Front Line Defenders calls on the Bahraini authorities to immediately drop the sentences passed on the doctors, ensure that they are reinstated to their positions and compensated for the damage suffered during their detention and trial. Front Line Defenders also calls on those responsible for the torture of the medical personnel to be brought to justice. …source
September 29, 2011 No Comments
(16.09.2011) The World Medical Association has appealed directly to the King of Bahrain to intervene in the case of the 20 health professionals facing trial in the country after they treated injured protesters during the recent political unrest.
In a letter to King Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa, the WMA urges him to carry out an immediate and independent investigation into the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment against some of the health professionals, as well as against other detainees in Bahrain, to make the results public, and to bring to justice any officials responsible for the torture or other ill-treatment of detainees.
The WMA adds that the confessions obtained under torture must not be submitted or used as evidence in the trial of the 20 health professionals or any other trials in Bahrain.
The health professionals, including a number of physicians, are due to appear before a military court on September 26 charged with participating in efforts to overthrow the Bahraini monarchy and taking part in illegal rallies.
The WMA says it believes that if the health workers are found guilty, they could be possible prisoners of conscience.
In its letter, which was also sent to Bahrain’s Minister of Social Development and the Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, the WMA says the trial, according to Amnesty International, does not appear to have met international standards for fair trial.
‘We are deeply concerned that, despite the serious charges brought against them, these health professionals appear to have been brought to trial solely because of their peaceful efforts to provide medical assistance to people injured by government security forces during popular protests in February and March, in which case those held in custody would be prisoners of conscience and should be immediately and unconditionally released.
‘All healthcare personnel must be protected and supported in their moral, ethical and professional responsibilities to provide care for the sick and injured. We call on you to be fair and just in this matter.’ …source
September 19, 2011 No Comments
The situation of detained doctors is very critical.the military courts are back and doctors are still facing serious charges infront of military court despite the royal decree no 62 which diverted all military courts to civil courts.
The health condition of the doctors inside jail is very bad.my husband Dr Ghassan Dhaif is having severe depression,suicidal thoughts,on several antidepressants,now on hunger strike so he is not taking his medications.dr Basim Dhaif is having compartmental syndrome from torture and may be having DVT (deep venous thrombosis).nurse ebrahim demestani is having fracture coccycs(lower back bone)he is in severe pain.dr samaheeji was diagnosed with cerebral aneurysm.dr tooblani is having severe depression.dr deewani is having uncontrolled diabetes.
All are on hunger strike and we ask the medical organizations to interfere immediately to release them and save them .
Thanks for your support
Dr.Ghasan Dhaif Wife
30 August 2011
August 30, 2011 No Comments
Wrongfully detained Bahrain Nursing Official Released after five months, used as political capital to “legitimize” al Khalifa’s BICI
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – August 21, 2011
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahraini authorities have released the country’s top nursing official after five months in custody .
Rola al-Safar was detained during crackdowns on Shiite-led protesters demanding greater rights.
Rights groups say the release of al-Safar and another detainee, teachers’ union official Jalila al-Salman, came after jailhouse meetings with the head of an international panel investigating alleged abuses in the Gulf nation’s six-month-old unrest.
Al-Safar is among more than two dozen doctors and nurses facing charges linked to the demonstrations by Bahrain’s majority Shiites, who claim widespread discrimination by Sunni rulers. At least 19 medical personnel remain in custody.
Hundreds of well-wishers streamed toward al-Safar’s house after her release Sunday. …source
August 21, 2011 No Comments
Human Rights Report Details Violence Against Health Care Workers in Bahrain
M. J. Friedrich – Journal of American Medical Association
When antigovernment protesters marched in February and March of this year on the streets of Manama, the capital of Bahrain, peacefully calling for political and economic reforms, a brutal response by the country’s security services followed.
The majority of the injured and dead were brought to Salmaniya Hospital in Manama. Rather than being a safe haven for the wounded, however, this facility, the largest modern medical facility in the country, was declared by the government to be a stronghold of opposition protesters. Security forces occupied the building. According to human rights organizations such as Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), patients were beaten and abused. Physicians, nurses, and other health care workers who treated the civilian protesters were systematically abducted, detained, and interrogated, and many now are facing trial for allegedly using the hospital as a base to try to overthrow the royal government. …more
August 17, 2011 No Comments
Al Khalifa regime practice of intimidation and collective punishment continues against Medical Workers
11 Aug 2011
DUBAI, Aug 11 (Reuters) – Bahrain’s health ministry will sack 23 workers and temporarily re-instate 200 who were suspended during a crackdown on anti-government protests early this year, state news agency BNA said on Thursday.
Hundreds of public sector employees, some of them health workers, were fired when the Gulf kingdom crushed the protests led by the majority Shi’ite Muslim population, who were calling for more political freedom and an end to discrimination by the ruling Sunni minority.
Preliminary findings of the committees tasked with looking into “staff violations” indicate 23 health ministry workers will lose their jobs, a spokesman was quoted by BNA as saying. He put the total number facing investigation at 428.
Two hundred employees will return to work next week pending the results of the disciplinary committees’ investigations, on top of 115 who were re-hired in June and July, he said.
Their re-instatement is conditional on their pledging to follow all public sector laws and regulations.
Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has been criticised for its handling of the protests. Fellow Sunni Arab monarchies sent troops to help suppress them in March.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday it was “extremely concerned” about events in Bahrain and mentioned the country in a report on attacks against health care workers and hospitals.
Last month the offices of medical charity Doctors Without Borders were raided by armed security personnel who confiscated medical equipment and supplies. …more
August 12, 2011 No Comments
Stop Targeting Medics, Patients, Health Facilities
July 18, 2011
(Beirut) – The Bahraini government should immediately end its campaign of arrests of medical professionals and attacks on injured patients linked to recent anti-government protests, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch called on authorities to investigate the violations against medical personnel and patients who exercised their rights to freedom of expression and assembly, hold those responsible to account, and allow unhindered access to medical treatment for all.
The 54-page report, “Targets of Retribution: Attacks against Medics, Injured Protesters, and Health Facilities,” documents serious government abuses, starting in mid-February 2011. These include attacks on health care providers; denial of medical access to protesters injured by security forces; the siege of hospitals and health centers; and the detention, ill-treatment, torture, and prosecution of medics and patients with protest-related injuries.
“The attacks on medics and wounded protesters have been part of an official policy of retribution against Bahrainis who supported pro-democracy protests,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Medical personnel who criticized the severe repression were singled out and jailed, among the more than 1,600 Bahrainis facing solitary confinement and ill-treatment in detention and unfair trials before a special military court.”
The government violations were part of the violent response by authorities to largely peaceful pro-democracy and anti-government demonstrations that began in February and continued months after military and security forces began a massive crackdown in mid-March, which led to the armed occupation of Bahrain’s main public hospital, the Salmaniya Medical Complex, on March 16.
Beginning on February 17, Human Rights Watch documented attacks by security forces on paramedics, doctors, and nurses who were providing urgent offsite medical care to wounded protesters and bystanders. Sadiq Alekry, a 44-year-old doctor, volunteered his services at the Pearl Roundabout on the evening of February 16, prior to the attack by security forces after midnight that resulted in the deaths of four protesters. Shortly after 3 a.m. Dr. Alekry said, riot police confronted him with sticks and guns, handcuffed him and began punching, kicking, and beating him with sticks. …more
July 19, 2011 No Comments
Bahrain’s dispicable “kings game” of “round ‘em up and free ‘em” – patronization, pretense and entertainment of Western charade for reform
Bahraini minister pledges to ask king to free medics
BAHRAIN’S HEALTH and human rights minister told an Irish delegation yesterday she would ask the king for the release of the 14 medics in custody – one of whom is reportedly suicidal – after their arrest during pro-democracy protests in the Gulf monarchy earlier this year.
Damian McCormack, the orthopaedic surgeon leading the group, told The Irish Times it had been an “extremely successful trip” despite earlier doubts over getting visas.
“We’ve had very positive meetings with the health minister. We met a lot of families of detainees and some of the released doctors on Wednesday, and heard first-hand accounts of their torture and experiences. We put all of that to the minister today.
“The bottom line is that the health minister has agreed to ask the king for the release of the remaining 14 medics,” said Prof McCormack.
The group, which includes Independent MEP Marian Harkin and former minister for foreign affairs David Andrews, told minister Dr Fatima Al Beloushi that one of the detainees was suicidal.
“We have credible stories that one of the detained doctors is suicidal and we’ve pointed out to her [Minister[Ms Al Beloushi] that time is running out. One of the medics could die in detention, which would be a disaster, and I think she realises that.
“So we would be hopeful that she will speak to the king and something positive will come out of this,” said Prof McCormack.
Senator Averil Power spoke of the “very harrowing accounts” they had heard about how the medics were mistreated.
One person told of having to stand handcuffed for days with his back against the wall, while another spoke of how they would only find out what they were charged with on arrival at court.
The Bahraini authorities had indicated they were not keen on the visit by the Irish group, describing it as “interference”.
Officials at the Bahraini embassy in London said on Monday they would prefer if the visit took place in October, when reconciliation talks, which began earlier this month, will have concluded. …more
July 14, 2011 No Comments