Bahrain: The continued harassment and persecution of the Medics
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."
“Those brave medics who have been acting according to the ethics of their noble profession, have already spent at least few weeks in prison and were interrogated and tortured to force false confessions.” said Nabeel Rajab, the director of Gulf Centre for Human Rights. “Ordering them to stop their work also in the private sector, after what they have gone through, is another form to harass and intimidate them that needs to stop immediately.” He added. Please write immediately in Arabic or English to:
- Urge the King to immediately drop all charges against the doctors and medics and to allow them to resume their work immediately؛
- Demand a full compensation for the ordeal and damages they and their families have endured. The treatment is against their civil and human rights and contrary to international law and Bahrain’s international human rights obligations؛
Please Send Appeals Now TO:
King Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa Office of His Majesty the King P.O. Box 555 Rifa’a Palace, Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 1766 4587
Shaikh Khaled bin Ali Al Khalifa Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs P. O. Box 450, Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 17531284
Dr. Fatima al-Balushi Minister of Human Rights and Social Development, and Acting Minister of Health Ministry of Human Rights and Social Development PO Box 32868, Isa Town, Bahrain Fax: +973 17 682 248 E-mail: email@example.com
For more information, please contact:
Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab (Arabic and English) +973-396-333-99
Lebanon: Khalid Ibrahim (Arabic and English) +961-701-595-52
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been recently created and registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.