F1 Crowd Pleaser, Illegally detained Medics released – 1000s Still Imprisoned as Political Prisoners
Bahrain: 21 medics cleared in closely watched case
By Emily Alpert – 28 March, 2013 – Los Angles Times
A Bahraini court on Thursday cleared 21 medics who had been convicted in connection with protests against the government, a victory for rights activists in the closely watched case.
The exonerated doctors, nurses and other medical personnel were among scores of health professionals arrested and charged during the unrest that erupted two years ago in the island monarchy.
Bahrain faced intense criticism from human rights groups and the U.S. State Department for pursuing the charges; many of the accused medics claimed they were tortured and forced to confess to charges such as “instigating hatred” and “taking part in illegal assemblies” after treating injured protesters.
Rights activists celebrated the court decision but said Bahrain must go further to ensure justice for the medics and investigate their alleged torture. “If we agree these guys are innocent, it needs to explain why it got a stack of signed confessions from them and how they were produced,” said Brian Dooley of the U.S.-based group Human Rights First.
Government spokespeople could not be reached immediately for comment by phone or email as of Thursday evening in Bahrain.
The 21 medics who were cleared Thursday were among a group of 23 medical professionals convicted of misdemeanors after the 2011 protests. Two did not appear in court to appeal; a score more were convicted of felonies in another case, though some were acquitted.
Thursday’s ruling was “the first step toward justice,” said rheumatologist Dr. Fatima Haji, who was convicted and later cleared of felony charges that included spreading misinformation about protest injuries. Now that the 21 medics are cleared, “they need to have some accountability for those who made false accusations against them.”
Haji cautioned that state prosecutors could still challenge the decision. Three medics remain imprisoned in the felony case, one of them sentenced to five years.
Unrest erupted in Bahrain two years ago as protesters challenged the Sunni Muslim monarchy, pressing for greater democracy and more of a voice for Shiite Muslims. The ensuing state crackdown was marked by beatings, torture and other abuses, an independent commission initiated by the government found.
Bahrain has since pledged reforms, retraining police and pursuing charges against officers. Government spokesmen say the state is working diligently to address the problems laid out by the commission; it recently launched a national dialogue on reform.
But local activists and rights groups abroad say change has been slow and persecution has continued. Police, frequently accused of using excessive force against demonstrators, have defended their actions as protecting officers who face deadly Molotov cocktails on the streets.
Beyond the street battles, Dooley pointed out that dissidents remain imprisoned on charges of trying to overthrow the government, convictions that rights groups say resulted from solely peaceful protest. Human rights activist Abdulhadi Khawaja, sentenced to life in prison in one such case, has been on a hunger strike for more than a week and a half along with his daughter, Zainab, who was sent to jail for three months on charges of insulting a public employee.
In an impassioned letter published by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, she wrote that she wondered what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would say about the U.S. “turning a blind eye to the blood and tears being split in the quest of freedom” in Bahrain, a longtime ally seen as a strategic bulwark against Iran.
The U.S. has expressed concern about human rights in Bahrain, but activists say its words have been too muted. Last year Washington resumed some arms sales to the country, stressing that the allowed items “are not used for crowd control.” Dooley argued that the victory for the medics, whose case received more attention abroad, shows more pressure is needed. …more
April 5, 2013 No Comments
April 2, 2013 No Comments
Bahraini court refuses to drop charges against two medic
28 March, 20130 – Islamic Invitation Turkey
A Bahraini court has refused to drop the charges against two medical personnel over their participation in protest rallies against the ruling Al Khalifa regime.
Defense lawyer Abdullah al-Shamlawi said the pair did not appear in court on Thursday.
He added that the court ordered charges against 21 other medical staffers to be dropped.
Last October, five doctors lost their appeals against convictions of protest-related offenses.
Dozens of doctors and nurses, mostly from Salmaniya Hospital, have been arrested by Bahraini forces for treating wounded protesters and taking part in anti-regime demonstrations.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights says authorities have denied medical help to jailed nurse, Haleema al-Sabagh.
Sabagh was sentenced to one year in prison after being arrested in Salmaniya Hospital.
The Bahraini uprising began in mid-February 2011. The Bahraini government promptly launched a brutal crackdown on the peaceful protests and called in Saudi-led Arab forces from neighboring states.
Dozens of people have been killed in the crackdown, and the security forces have arrested hundreds, including doctors and nurses accused of treating injured revolutionaries.
A report published by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry in November 2011 found that the Al Khalifa regime had used excessive force in the crackdown and accused Manama of torturing political activists, politicians, and protesters.
The protesters say they will continue holding anti-regime demonstrations until their demand for the establishment of a democratically elected government is met. …source
April 2, 2013 No Comments
Bahraini Protests starts Paying Off , as 21 Medics convictions reversed By Court , Pledges to get others freed
30 March, 2013 – Jafria News
Bahriani Medic Released from JailJNN 30 Mar 2013 Manama , An appeals court in Bahrain has reversed the convictions of 21 medics arrested in connection to anti-government protests in 2011. Along with dozens of others, some of whom are still jailed, they helped treat the wounded in the mass unrest.
The physicians, nurses and other hospital workers were convicted last November on misdemeanor charges over their treatment of injured protesters, and for participating in “illegal assemblies.” Some of the accused said their convictions were based on false confessions extracted under torture.
They are now cleared from having to spend three months in prison or paying 200 dinars ($530). Two more similar cases remain open, as the suspects failed to appear in court.
The international medic community hailed the decision as a victory, but said the fight for justice is not yet over.
“The kingdom must now demonstrate a renewed commitment to civil and human rights by compensating the health professionals who were wrongly arrested, mistreated, and convicted; restoring all of those wrongly dismissed to their jobs; freeing others still serving prison sentences on similarly spurious convictions; and fairly prosecuting the officials responsible for these outrageous rights violations,” Dr. Deborah D. Ascheim, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) board chair said.
“We need to see the accountability established. And those who are responsible of torturing the doctors and arresting the doctors and putting forth charges and crimes against the doctors and giving them all this pain, they should be brought to justice. This is the priority,” Dr. Nada Dhaif, one of the acquitted doctors told RT.
Dr. Nabeel Tammam, a surgeon at Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama, is one of the 21 whose conviction was overturned. “We will continue our pressure until we gain the freedom of all the rest of the medics still in jail,” Dr. Tammam told PHR, “because we believe that they are innocent and that all they did was to perform their humanitarian duty.”
The acquitted medics were among the 82 workers arrested between February and March 2011 for providing medical treatment to protesters. The charges against them went as far as claiming they attempted to overthrow the regime.
In September 2011, 20 of the medics were sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. However, in 2012 they were retried by a civilian court. Nine of them had their sentences reduced to 1 to 3 years in jail; two, who remain at large, had their sentences sustained; nine were acquitted after being found innocent.
Anti-government protests have rocked Bahrain since February 2011, as demonstrators call for an end to the Al-Khalifa monarchy, which has ruled the country since 1974. Hundreds have been arrested, and thousands have lost their jobs. Scores of people have also testified that they were tortured during their arrest.
Bahraini human rights activists have unsuccessfully called on the international community to intervene, over what they have called a suppression of the country’s opposition. A common thread of discontent among protesters is over discrimination against the country’s Shiite majority at the hands of the predominantly Saudi Backed Wahabi government.
Nearly 100 people have been killed since the start of the uprising. ..source
April 2, 2013 No Comments
Obama foreign policy failure enables Bahrain Regime to imprison Medics for tending injured protesters
Bahrain: A nurse sentenced to one year imprisonment in link to treatment of injured protesters
17 October, 2012 – ABNA.co
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights express concern regarding the arrest of yet another medical staff, Dental Assistant Halima Abdulaziz Al-Sabag on 15 Oct 2012, after attending her trial of appeal against 1 year imprisonment sentence which she received earlier, an action that affirm continuation of targeting of medical staff by the Bahraini authorities.
Dental Assistant Halima Abdulaziz Al-Sabag was arrested for the first time from her workplace in Salmaniya hospital on January 26, 2012. Allegedly she took first-aid medicines for the treatment of injured protesters, who suffered injuries as a result of the suppression of the authorities. She was detained for approximately 3 weeks pending investigation on an alleged charge of exploitation of her job to seize the money of the state, a charge denied by Al-Sabag. (see previous appeal here: bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5006 ). She was put on trial along with the head nurse and sentenced on 18 Sep 2012 to 1-year imprisonment and a fine of 100 Bahraini dinars whilst the other nurse was acquitted. She was then arrested again while attending her trial of appeal on 15 Oct 2012, to execute the sentence. The trial of appeal was postponed until 18 Nov 2012.
The hospitals in Bahrain have been under military control for over 18 months now, protesters are unable to receive proper treatment in the hospitals as they fear arrest if they seek hospital care for their injuries, as hospitals have been ordered to report any injury related to protest to the police. Instead, they are forced to receive inferior treatment at home, or remain untreated. In May there were documented cases of protesters being interrogated and arrested after arriving to hospitals, and before the completion of their medical treatment.
The criminal courts in Bahrain are still considering the cases of 28 health professionals because of their involvement in the treatment of wounded demonstrators. Verdicts are expected to be passed on them on January 2013 .  On the 14th of June 2012, an appeals court upheld the convictions of nine doctors, who were sentenced to between one month to five years in prison for their involvement in the treatment of injured protesters during the Feb 2011 uprising, and subsequently 6 of them were arrested . At the same time, some other members of the medical staff are still in prison, including Nurse Hassan Maatoq, sentenced by a military court to three years in prison  . All this is happening, although reports by international human rights organizations and Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), confirmed the exposure of medics to mistreatment and torture in order to extract confessions that have been later used in cases against them. …more
October 17, 2012 No Comments
PHR Calls on Bahrain Appeals Court to Free Hospital Worker
3 August, 2012 – Physicians for Human Rights
An appeals court in Bahrain could decide on Monday whether to release a hospital worker sentenced to three years in prison for delivering an oxygen cylinder and other medical supplies to treat protesters.
A military court sentenced Younis Ashoori in June 2011 following his arrest in March; he has allegedly been tortured while in custody. He is in his 60s and has serious medical conditions that put his life in danger without appropriate medical care.
“Imprisoning this health professional for the ‘crime’ of helping wounded protesters is yet another example of the government’s empty promise to implement human rights reform,” said Richard Sollom, deputy director of PHR. “Mr. Ashoori must be released at once—along with all other medical professionals who have been similarly arrested simply for performing their ethical duty to treat the injured.”
Younis is one of several medics tried individually. Ahmed Almushatat was sentenced to two years for providing medications to injured protesters, and Hassan Matooq was sentenced to three years for participating in a public gathering. PHR has been unable to visit these men in prison, despite repeated requests, and has lobbied strenuously for their release.
PHR has also called on courts in Bahrain to drop all charges against other medical professionals convicted in connection with their efforts to treat protesters wounded in demonstrations against the Bahraini regime sparked by the Arab Spring movement. …more
August 6, 2012 No Comments
PHR Decries Postponement in Bahrain Medics Retrial
15 May, 2012 – POMED – PHR
The retrial of twenty Bahraini medics, which was already delayed once in March, has been delayed yet again until June, drawing criticism from human rights groups such as Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). PHR called for the charges to be dropped against all medics, in addition to an investigation into their allegations of torture while being detained. Nabeel Hameed, one of the doctors facing trial, said he was arrested and brutalized after treating protesters. ”We became automatic witnesses,” Hameed said, “That’s a problem. When we saw protesters, straightaway we became automatic witnesses. And to take our credibility away, accuse us of a crime.” Richard Sollom of PHR says the prosecution of the doctors “epitomizes a disturbing sectarian chasm that must be addressed and breached,” and adds, “President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron could lend their support in this regard with more outspoken criticism of their ally’s human rights record.” The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland also spoke out for the medics, writing, “We believe the future for Bahrain has to be one of dialogue and reconciliation. We will continue to contribute through education and continue to advocate for just outcomes.”
In other news, the Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ) released a statement condemning the Bahraini government’s decision to revoke permission to visit the Gulf kingdom, and signed a joint letter to Bahrain’s director of human rights organizations. …more
May 15, 2012 No Comments
Bahrain civilian court put medics’ retrial on hold until June
By Associated Press – 10 May, 2012
MANAMA, Bahrain — A Bahraini defense lawyer says the retrial of 20 medical professionals on allegations of aiding the Gulf kingdom’s uprising has been adjourned for a month.
The doctors and nurses had been sentenced to prison terms of between five and 15 years by a now-disbanded security tribunal, which was set up by the Sunni monarchy as part of crackdowns against Shiite-led protests that began 15 months ago.
In March, a retrial began in civilian court but was immediately postponed. Lawyer Jalila al-Sayed says the court Thursday delayed proceedings again until June 14.
A retrial also is under way for a group of 21 activists, including a rights defender on hunger strike for three months.
May 10, 2012 No Comments
Scottish Health Minister expresses support for democracy in Bahrain
30 April, 2012 – BJDM
The Scottish Health Minister today expressed The Scottish Government’s support for all efforts to promote democracy and human rights in Bahrain.
In a meeting with a delegation of persecuted Bahraini medics and a resigned MP, Nicola Sturgeon MSP listened to the testimonies of the medics, describing their experiences as “harrowing” and “abhorrent”.
She said the Scottish Government and the Scottish National Party would be exploring ways to “build international pressure on Bahrain to make genuine reform”.
Adding, “we have a willingness to put pressure on the UK Government” with regards to democracy and human rights for Bahrain.
In a one hour meeting, The Minster heard first hand experiences of the Government crackdown on democracy protesters in which healthcare was on the frontline.
The medics explained how they fled Bahrain after being summoned for interrogation, and the mistreatment and imprisonment subjected on their colleagues.
They also emphasized the fear of injured protesters in attending both public and private medical facilities, due to the militarization of hospitals in Bahrain.
The Minister heard how tear gas is being used as part of the crackdown to collectively punish whole villages.
Sturgeon added that the Scottish National Party was opposed to the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix taking place last month.
She told the medics she will go away from this meeting and meet with her colleagues in the Scottish Government to seriously consider what direct support they can provide to the people of Bahrain.
Taking time out from a busy schedule she reasserted, “I am very supportive and want to support you as much as possible”.
Ali Alaswad, resigned MP said, “We are very grateful that The Minister took the time to meet with us and hear about the situation in Bahrain. We appreciate their continued support and look forward to working together to achieve the democratic outcome in Bahrain, that the people are looking for.” …more
April 30, 2012 No Comments
Bahraini Medics Trial Halted with Fewer than Half of Witnesses Allowed to Testify
15 March, 2012 – Human Rights First – Brenda Bowser-Soder,
Washington, DC — Eighteen of 20 Bahraini medics who were sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison after a military trial finished their latest court appearance today. Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley, who has been in Bahrain for the past week, concluded his trip today by monitoring the trial.
The series of witnesses testifying in defense of the medics made the government case appear even less tenable. Though only fewer than half of the medic’s witnesses were allowed to testify. The judge halted the proceedings shortly after 7:30 p.m.
“The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday, but it appears the defendants will not be able to call any more witnesses to testify in person. These charges should have never been brought and should now be immediately dropped,” said Dooley.
Rula Al Saffar, a Bahraini nurse sentenced to 15 years for providing medical treatment to democracy protesters last spring, told Human Rights First, “It is solely unfair that we were not allowed to call our remaining witnesses, and the judge prevented those witnesses that he did hear from raising the issue of our torture in custody.” …more
March 17, 2012 No Comments
Scenes From a Bahraini “Courtroom”
16 March, 2012 – Huffington Post – Brian Dooley
There they sit, squeezed onto two benches in Bahrain’s criminal court: the 20 medics who were tortured into making false confessions. They were arrested last year after treating protestors at the Salmaniya Medical Complex and telling the world the truth about what had happened.
Their ordeal began a year ago when the government seized them from their workplaces and homes and subjected them to severe beatings, sexual assault, electrocution, and other forms of torture for perceived association with the democracy protests which began in February 14, 2011.
Then in military trials almost six months ago, 20 were sentenced to between five and 15 years in prison. This is their appeal session. There they sit, 20 respected medical professionals, accused of carrying weapons to organize the overthrow of the government and other trumped-up charges.
The courtroom is small and triangular. The judge sits on a dais in one corner below a portrait of King Hamad, whose cabinet is unelected, its key posts filled with members of the royal family. His uncle has been the country’s unelected prime minister since 1971. Dressed in clothes identical to the king’s in the portrait and with the same mustache, the judge looks like an older, mini-me version of the monarch.
When the session opens in the morning, the atmosphere is an odd mix of menace and farce. The lawyers are immediately summoned to be briefed in the back room, and some of the medics shout out “Hurrah, we’re innocent, just release us!” and “Don’t forget Younis Ashoori” — a hospital administrator who has been in prison for a year and is being tried separately.
The 20 include six women. Rula al Saffar, who trained and worked as a nurse in the United States for 18 years, is sitting in a sharp grey business suit chatting to the glamorous Dr. Fatima Haji. They sit on benches to right of Court Room 11 while the rest of us — relatives, lawyers, and observers from the U.S., UK, and German embassies — sit on the three benches to the left. …more
March 16, 2012 No Comments
Oireachtas committee meets over human rights abuse in Bahrain
15 February, 2012 – theJournal.ie
THE DIRECTOR of the Dublin-based human rights group Front Line Defenders is to address an Oireachtas committee today on the ongoing unrest in Bahrain.
Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the pro-reform uprisings.
The Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade chairman Pat Breen said that Front Line director Mary Lawlor would inform the committee of the group’s priorities and the challenges it faces.
The organisation works to protect the defenders of human rights, and has been highlighting the detention and abuse of medical staff and democracy activists in Bahrain.
A number of Irish-trained medics are among those who have been jailed in Bahrain on charges of inciting hatred against Bahrain’s rulers and of stockpiling weapons at medical facilities.
The registrar of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Prof Cathal Kelly will also address the committee tomorrow and is expected to discuss the situation regarding the Irish-trained medics.
Mary Lawlor is expected to give the Oireachtas committee an overview of the group’s operations and to recommend that the OSCE – of which Ireland is currently the chair – should appoint a special representative on human rights defenders.
She is also expected to call on the Irish government to prioritise Abdulhadi Al Khawaja’s case in Bahrain.
Having previously worked with Front Line and Amnesty, Al Khawaja is one of the dozens of activists arrested during the pro-democracy protests last year. He is currently serving a life sentence for organising a terrorist organisation and liaising with a terrorist group working for a foreign country.
Front Line has criticised his trial as being “grossly unfair” and has raised concerns about the conditions of his detention.
The Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade meeting is due to begin at 2.30pm in Committee Room 1. …source
February 15, 2012 No Comments
Medic hearing date suddenly moved-up to Monday, 30 January, following Ruling on legitimacy of Military Courts
Monday Offers Bahrain Regime Chance to Free Targeted Medics
26 January, 2012 – Human Rights First
Washington, DC –The group of 20 Bahraini medics convicted by the dictatorship’s military court in September have had their next appeal hearing date suddenly moved-up to Monday, Jan. 30. This hearing gives the Bahrain regime a golden opportunity to show the world it is serious about human rights reform, said Human Rights First.
The regime targeted the medics for their treatment of pro-democracy protestors in February and March of 2011 and for telling the international media the truth about attacks on the demonstrators. They were informed earlier this week that their next appeal hearing, initially scheduled for March 19, would instead take place to Jan 30.
One of those detained and tortured into making a false confession is Dr. Nada Dhaif. She was sentenced to 15 years by the military court in a trial that fell well below recognizable legal standards. She told Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley, “We were totally surprised when they brought the hearing forward. I think this was done so that no international observers would be there to witness the sham trial – they’ve been shut out until March. It’s hard to know what will happen and, with all the disappointments we’ve had this last year, it’s hard to be optimistic. But we’ll keep on struggling and praying.”
February promises to be a vitally important month for the regime. The anniversary of Bahrain’s Arab Spring falls on the 14th and major protests are expected around that time.
Last week, Dooley was denied entry to Bahrain. He notes, “The fear is that the Bahraini government wants to keep observers out during this sensitive period. The dictatorship has some serious decisions to make – will it react with widespread violence like last year or will it show the world it has changed by allowing peaceful protests? Dropping the charges against the doctors would be a useful first step in showing it’s not going to be the same old repression as usual.”
Dooley also noted that Human Rights First is calling on the Bahraini government to immediately launch an investigation into who tortured the medics while they were in custody.
In recent weeks protestors have been attacked the police using tear gas, resulting in several deaths. There have also been fresh reports of torture in custody. The Bahrain regime admitted today that another man has died in custody in recent days. It did not elaborate or give further details about that incident.
“A month from now, we’ll know if the Bahrain regime’s claims to have changed are real or bogus,” concluded Dooley. “Monday is a key indicator. If the medics aren’t freed and the charges dropped the world can expect the violent crackdown to continue.” …source
January 26, 2012 Comments Off on Medic hearing date suddenly moved-up to Monday, 30 January, following Ruling on legitimacy of Military Courts
Bogus death sentences overturned for two innocents in misdirection of media attention as bogus medics trials proceed
Bahrain resumes retrial of convicted medics
Twenty hospital staff convicted of crimes against state during protests retried after prosecution withdrew confessions.
09 January, 2012 – AlJazeera
Rights groups say the medics were given trumped-up charges for treating protesters wounded by security forces
A civil court in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, has begun a new hearing for a group of 20 medical staff who were convicted of taking part in crimes against the state during anti-government protests that rocked the country last year.
The doctors, nurses and paramedics were handed sentences, ranging from five to 15 years in prison, on September 28, over a raft of charges, including incitement to overthrow the the ruling Al Khalifa family.
But a retrial was initiated on October 23 after prosecutors dropped confessions from the defendants, who had protested that the statements were extracted under torture.
The hearing for the new trial had been adjourned in November.
Most of the staff worked at, or volunteered at, the Salmaniya Medical Centre in Manama that was stormed by security forces in mid-March after they drove protesters out of nearby Pearl Square.
The workers received the heavy jail terms from the military-run National Safety Court, but are now being tried in a civil court.
They are also being charged with occupying the medical centre and possessing weapons, while denying Sunni Muslims access to the hospital as mainly Shia demonstrators camped in the complex’s car park.
The medical professionals also stand accused of spreading false news, particularly concerning the condition of wounded protesters, the illegal acquisition of medicines and medical facilities, and participating in demonstrations.
In November, independent investigators tasked by Bahrain’s king to probe the unrest were highly critical of the special security court that had tried the medics, along with opposition leaders and activists behind closed doors.
A 500-page report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry said the court has issued harsh sentences -including life in prison and death penalties – and “denied most defendants elementary fair trial guarantees”.
The document also spotlighted abuses at the Salmaniya Medical Centre. …more
January 9, 2012 No Comments
Bahrain’s brave health care workers deserve support
U.S. failure to denounce punishment of those who cared for protesters is shameful
By Adil Shamoo – November 28, 2011 – Baltimore Sun
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 health care 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 health care providers, arresting, jailing and torturing those accused of treating protesters. One female doctor told National Public Radio 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. …more
December 7, 2011 No Comments
So absurd even the defendants thought the accusations were “hilarious” – from Military Kangroo Court to Circus Civilian Court, the tragedy of Bahrain’s Injustice System
Bahrain medics face new charges of supplying weapons to protesters
Monday 28 November 2011 – by The Guardian
Bahraini medical staff accused of trying to overthrow the government of the Gulf state earlier this year, and who had hoped charges against them might now be dropped, faced new accusations in a court hearing.
Twenty staff from the Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama had thought their ordeal might be ending on Monday after the release of last week’s report detailing human rights abuses by Bahrain’s security forces during the Pearl revolution in February.
The report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) found allegations that the medics “assisted the demonstrators by supplying them with weapons” to be unfounded.
But prosecutors produced guns, swords, knives and chains and claimed this was proof against the doctors, nurses, and paramedics. These weapons had not been presented previously – and led to an incredulous response in court. “It was really hilarious,” one of them, Dr Nada Dhaif, told BBC Radio 5. “The government has missed the chance that anyone will take this seriously.”
The 20 were initially convicted in the military-run national safety court in September on a raft of charges, including incitement to overthrow the regime. The government said they were involved with “hardline protesters” and they were sentenced to five to 15 years. …more
November 28, 2011 No Comments
Saturday 26th November – International Day of Action to support the medics
Location: Freedom Plaza to the Embassy of Bahrain.
Time: Meet in Freedom Plaza at 11:30 am or the UDC metro station at 12:00 pm for a march to the Embassy of Bahrain
Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—November 26, 2011. Over 1,000 medical workers from 30 different countries have signed a petition calling for an immediate dropping of all charges gainst the 20 Bahraini medics facing up to 15 years in jail.
On Monday, Nov. 28, the 20 will face a civilian court after international outrage forced the prosecution to backtrack on the original sentences. In what is a clear case of political ersecution, the medics face trial for treating injured protesters.
In an attempt to support the medics, physicians around the world will be handing the petition to different Bahrain embassies and consulates on Saturday 26th November.
The action has already been confirmed in London, Washington, Ottawa, Beirut and Cairo with others expected to be confirmed within the next 24 hours.
In United Kingdom, the British Health Trade Union, UNISON, has supported the petition and will representatives will be joining the team handing the petition to the Bahrain Embassy in London. They will meet with Bahraini Doctors who were working in Manama’s Salmaniya Hospital during the unrest in February and March.
There is hope that, given the recent report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry that openly criticized the Bahrain Governments crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, that the charges will be dropped.
However it remains to be seen as to whether the Government will indeed implement the recommendations made in the report.
Dr. Fatima Haji, one of the 20 Doctors being tried said:
“We have had these false charges hanging around our necks for the past few months and the emotional and physical stress we have gone through has caused so many problems. We have been unable to work, due to the charges, and we are living each day not knowing if it will be the last time we see our children and families for up to 15 years. We are pleased that the international pressure has led to our case being heard again, but we hope and pray that justice will be done and all the charges will be dropped. We are medics and all we want to do is help people regardless of their political, religious or any other belief. The international support we have received has been very warming and we hope that it will work to force the Government to drop these hurtful and untrue accusations.”
Karen Reissmann, a mental health nurse and national executive member of UNISON, said:
“This is a disgrace. The medics should all be released immediately with all charges dropped. All health staff has a duty to treat anyone who needs their care. They were simply doing their job.”
Dr. Margaret Flowers adds, “Medical providers who are treating people in times of war or protest have traditionally been exempted from arrest. However, recent trends such as the arrest of the medics in Bahrain and arrest of nurses caring for protesters in the occupations in the US are unethical and very disturbing. We must demand that this be stopped.” …more
November 28, 2011 No Comments
Trial of Bahrain’s 20 medics adjourned: activist
November 28, 2011 – Agence France Presse
DUBAI: A Bahraini court on Monday adjourned to January the hearing in the trial of 20 medics held for their role during anti-regime protests that rocked the kingdom earlier this year, a rights activist said.
“The High Criminal Court adjourned the hearing to January 9,” Mohammed al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, said.
“The public prosecution presented to the court a group of guns and swords which it said were found in Salmaniya Medical Complex” where the doctors worked, saying they were “proof” against the detainees, Maskati said.
The medics have been handed down long jail terms for their role during anti-regime protests.
The doctors, nurses, and paramedics were initially tried and convicted in the military-run National Safety Court on September 28 on a raft of charges, including incitement to overthrow the regime.
They were given sentences ranging from five to 15 years each.
But in a dramatic reversal, the prosecutor told the court it was dropping confessions from the defendants, after medics had protested that the statements were extracted under duress, and a new trial began on October 23.
Most of the medics worked at or volunteered at the Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama that was stormed by security forces in mid-March after they drove protesters out of nearby Pearl Square.
An independent inquiry commission that has investigated a month of unrest in the Sunni-ruled kingdom had put the death toll at 35, including five security personnel and five detainees who were tortured to death while in custody. Its report, released last week, said that 11 other people were killed later, and concluded that a total of 2,929 people were detained during the protest movement and at least 700 remain in prison.
King Hamad vowed reforms following the commission’s findings, but tensions have remained high.
November 28, 2011 No Comments
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
November 7, 2011 No Comments
International call to help free Bahrain Medics – Saturday 26th November
November 7, 2011 – BJDM
Since the ludicrous sentencing of the 20 Bahrain medics we have been asking medical workers around the world to sign this petition to the Ministry of Health, demanding that the charges be dropped.
With hundreds of signatures and their re-trial set for Monday 28th November we are now calling for the petition to be handed in at Bahrain Embassies/ Consulates around the world.
We would like to do this in a coordinated way, on Saturday 26th November. A number of cities have already confirmed that they will be taking part but we need as many as possible.
We are asking people to contact us on email@example.com to let us know if they are willing to hand in the petition in their country. Please let us know where you are based and if the date is suitable for you.
See below for a list of Bahrain Embassies/ Consulates, but if there is not one in your country you can contact us and we will advise the best option. The more countries we have involved, the more likely it will have an affect, so please do help us if you can.
Thanks for your support.
List of Bahrain Embassies/ Consulates
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
New Delhi, India
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
London, United Kingdom
New York, United States
Washington DC, United States
November 7, 2011 No Comments
HRW: Bahrain: Medics Describe Torture in Detention
Appeals Court Should Void Flawed Convictions – OCTOBER 21, 2011 – BCHR
(Beirut) – Medical staff convicted by a military court of alleged serious crimes during the period of anti-government protests in Bahrain in early 2011 were subjected to abuse and torture in detention, Human Rights Watch said today. Given the fundamental unfairness of the trial, including that civilians were tried in a military court, Bahrain’s High Court of Appeals should reverse the convictions of 20 medical staff when they hear their appeal on October 23, 2011, and order an independent investigation into the defendants’ allegations of abuse and torture.
The prosecutors should drop all charges based solely on their exercise of freedom of speech and assembly, and ensure a new trial for defendants in a civilian court only if there is evidence of possible criminal activity, Human Rights Watch said. On October 5, Attorney General Ali Al Buainain announced that the appeal will “be equivalent to a retrial.” Human Rights Watch interviewed 7 of the 20 medical staff convicted of serious crimes, who told of severe abuse in detention and extensive violations of their rights to a fair trial.
“The appeals court should decisively overturn the unfair verdicts against the medics and dismiss outright all politically motivated charges,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The new hearing should also disallow allegedly coerced confessions.”
On September 29, the National Safety Lower Court, a special military court, convicted the 20 doctors, nurses, and paramedics on charges including forcibly taking over the Salmaniya Medical Complex and refusing treatment to patients based on sectarian affiliation. The court also convicted the 20 of transparently political offenses, such as “instigating hatred against the ruling system,” “incitement to overthrow the regime,” and “spreading false news.”
On March 16, the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) took control of the Salmaniya Medical Complex, the largest medical complex in Bahrain. Beginning on March 17, security forces arrested 48 medics, 28 of whom separately face lesser misdemeanor charges before a civilian court for speech-related offenses.
Medical staff interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that interrogators subjected them to physical and psychological pressure during pretrial detention, typically to coerce confessions. Authorities held many of them for weeks, much of that time incommunicado. None could meet with their lawyers to prepare their defenses prior to the military court trial. Many saw family members and lawyers for the first time on June 6, at their first trial session. …more
October 24, 2011 No Comments
Freedom For Bahrain Medics
Sunday October 16, 2011
In the name of God the most merciful and precious
THE BAHRAINI MEDICS “CONVICTED BY MILITARY COURT
ON 29 T H SEPTEMBER ‘2011” STATEMENT REGARDING THE
PUBLIC PROSECUTOR’S STATEMENT ON THE TRIAL OF
MEDICS IN CIVILIAN COURTS
BAHRAIN RETREATS FROM ABOLISHMENT OF MILITARY TRIALS OF MEDICS
The Bahrain News Agency and local newspapers revealed a statement made by HE the Attorney-General, Dr. Ali Fadl Al-Boainain, in which he declared that the Bahraini authorities have taken a new decision to revert our trial, we the Medics, to the civil courts in a manner of appeal; thus, confirming the determination of the Bahraini authorities to deliberately hold us accountable and have us punished as a result of executing our duty, which is obligatory by our humanitarian imperatives, the values of the profession, and the medical and professional oaths that we have all taken. Moreover, it clearly indicates the declination of the authorities in Bahrain from withdrawing the unwarranted cruel martial sentences that were levied upon us, which are unjustified under any legal platform; accordingly, and in order to clarify the image that has become distorted and confusing to the citizens, residents and concerned local and international organizations, we are obligated to highlight the following points:
1. The Public Prosecutor has affirmed the re-trial of doctors and medical staff, which was welcomed by many international organizations, which were not convinced by the procedures or trials. Yet the decision to transfer our case to the Court of Appeals advocates the adoption of the validity of the procedures and provisions established against our rights in the military courts, and that our referral to the Court of Appeal comes as a phase complementary to those of military trials under the name of the National Safety Court, which in the sense are still valid, and will take the subsequent provisions built on the military trails’ sentences, which is not consistent with Prosecutor’s title statement made to the public, that suggests the harsh military provisions against Medics have become obsolete.
2. The lack of guarantees and the manifestations of a fair trial was not limited to the type of court or its jurisdiction in order to allow us to make an assumption that virtuous decisions will be achieved once we are transferred to the civil courts; what is required to be available to us as defendants, as is the view of the security services, opportunities to appropriately and fairly defend ourselves as stipulated in the international conventions of the Universal Declaration of Human rights in 1948, which are not consistent with what was practiced by the security forces to extract fake confessions from the Medics under the systems of threats and torture. The aforementioned invites us to demand for a complete and thorough re-investigation as a whole in the presence of lawyers and representatives from the United Nations and under the monitor of international human rights organizations, as the prosecution’s main witness is an officer of the General Directorate of Investigation and Criminal Evidence. The officer, a Lieutenant-Colonel, was personally involved in torturing the Medics to extract false and mocked confessions, and always referring to so-called “secret sources” for assembling information against the medical staff.
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October 16, 2011 No Comments
Bahraini medics tell of torture ahead of retrial
By Richard Hall – 10/10/2011
Bahraini medical workers who were handed lengthy jail terms for their alleged support of pro-democracy protests hope they will get a fair trial now they have had their sentences overturned.
Appearing to buckle under international pressure, Bahrain’s Attorney-General ordered retrials in a civilian court for the 20 doctors, nurses and paramedics who treated injured protesters during demonstrations against the ruling Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty. Ali al-Boainain said that “the accused will have the benefit of full re-evaluation of evidence and full opportunity to present their defences”.
The medics were sentenced in a quasi-military court to terms ranging from five to 15 years for alleged offences including the possession of weapons, stealing medical equipment, and “fabricating stories to disturb public security”. They protested their innocence, saying they were tortured during interrogation to extract false confessions.
Their sentencing provoked outrage from human rights organisations, medical associations and the United Nations, which called for the convictions to be overturned. Roula al-Saffar, who had been sentenced to 15 years in prison, said told the Independent that the ruling represented a “new start” and called on the authorities to review the cases of other medical professionals who had been convicted of similar charges.
“I am shocked, but at the same time I am very happy. It is a new start for us,” said Saffar, the head of the Bahrain nursing union. “I hope that they will hear us out this time. Last time we were not heard. The military court screamed at us. “Our confessions were forced out of us and we were forced to sign in handcuffs.”
A government spokesman, Sheikh Abdul Aziz, said of the decision yesterday: “We’ve always said that all cases that have been tried in the National Safety Court will be transferred to the civilian court for review, and all sentenced people will have the right to appeal where a full review will be considered in regards to evidence procedures.” Bahrain’s ruling Muslim Sunni monarchy has waged sweeping crackdowns against mostly Muslim Shia protesters calling for greater rights.
The doctors and nurses worked at the state-run Salmaniya Medical Centre close to the capital’s Pearl Square, which became the epicentre of Bahrain’s uprising, inspired by other revolts across the Arab world. The authorities saw the hospital’s mostly Shia staff as protest sympathisers, although the medics claimed they treated all who needed care.
October 10, 2011 No Comments
Bahrain Military Court attempt Cover-up Saud, al Khalifa Crimes against Humanity in Medics conviction
Bahraini medical staff charged
6 June 2011
Dozens of doctors and nurses who treated injured protesters in Bahrain have appeared in court charged with attempting to topple the monarchy. The 47 medics appeared in a special military court in Manama. They have been held since March, when Bahrain declared an emergency law, which was only lifted last week.
Bahrain‘s mainly Shia protesters have been calling for democratic reforms and more rights for the country’s Shia majority in the Sunni-ruled kingdom. Hundreds of opposition supporters have been detained since March, when Bahrain‘s rulers called in military support from its Gulf Arab neighbours – mostly Saudi Arabia and the UAE – to suppress the protests.
More than 20 people were killed during the government’s campaign to stifle the demonstrations. Two people have been sentenced to death for their part in the protests. Four have died in police custody.
Only select journalists are allowed to cover the latest trials from inside the special security court, which has military and civilian judges.
In April, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) expressed concern about attacks on physicians, patients and unarmed civilians since protests began in February. It said dozens of medics have been arrested – some by masked men in the middle of the night.
The Bahraini authorities have denied targeting medics, saying some of Bahrain‘s main medical facilities “had been overrun by political and sectarian activity”. Since the lifting of the emergency law, small protests have been held in Shia villages, but they have been quickly dispersed by police using tear gas, rubber bullets, sound grenades and birdshot (small metal pellets), videos on YouTube appear to show.
June 9, 2011 No Comments