Bahrain Raids Offices of Doctors Without Borders (video)

A documentary made by Al Jazeera entitled Bahrain: Shouting in the dark describes the country’s uprising as the “Arab revolution that was abandoned by the Arabs, forsaken by the West and forgotten by the world.” According to the documentary, supporters of the Bahraini government used Facebook to trace anti-government protesters; the social media tool that played a key role in the Egyptian revolution was instead used to track down 20-year-old anti-government protester and poet Ayat Al Qurmezi, says the Telegraph:

Visitors were told “write the traitor’s name and work place” and, according to the film, masked commandos then arrested her and took her to prison.

According to reports, Ms Al Qurmezi’s mother said: “This is the first time something like this has happened. Young girls taken from their homes, arrested and we don’t know where they are.”

The film also alleges that many Bahraini protesters are now wary of using social networking sites due to fears that the government may be monitoring their activities.

One protester who has steadfastly continue to speak up about the abuses in Bahrain is Zainab Al-Khawaja, who writes regularly at Angry Arabiya on Twitter (and who appears in the photo above). Her father, human rights advocate Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja has been sentenced to life in prison; Zainab Al-Khawaja’s husband has also been jailed.

You can see Shouting in the Dark on YouTube:

Abuses of the human rights of Bahrain’s citizens are ongoing, with people even denied access to basic medical care. On July 28, the Bahraini government raided the offices of the Doctors Without Borders in the capital of Manama. The international aid organization is now refusing to work there and says that, during the raid, armed security personnel damaged office property, confiscated “all medical and office equipment and supplies” and arrested the group’s Bahraini driver and interpreter, Saeed Mahdi. The group’s efforts to be in contact with Mahdi, and those of his family, were unsuccessful for several days.

Bahrain’s Health Ministry only acknowledged the raid and arrest this Thursday, says the New York Times. Doctors Without Borders was informed that it “lacked legal permission to operate a health facility” and that Mahdi was arrested because he had “lied to the police about the circumstances in which he had helped a wounded patient, and had sought to disguise his own affiliation with Doctors Without Borders.” In a statement distributed by Qorvis Communications, a Washington public relations firm that represents the Bahraini government, the ministry also said:

“The Ministry of Health is disappointed by the serious allegations. While the government of Bahrain routinely welcomes international humanitarian organizations, Bahrain cannot allow any such organization or individuals involved with such an organization to breach Bahraini law.”

Doctors Without Borders said that it will not start working in Bahrain “without guarantees that its premises and personnel would be respected”; a spokesman for the group said that Mahdi had been released.

23 doctors and 24 nurses who treated pro-democracy protesters earlier this year in Bahrain have been charged with “attempting to topple the king’s monarchy”; with, in effect, treason. The doctors, who were arrested in March and who include Dr Ali Al Ekri, an orthopaedic surgeon at Salmaniya Hospital in Manama, have reportedly been tortured and are currently imprisoned.

Many medical workers in Bahrain have become too frightened to treat wounded protesters while those who are injured  areoften afraid to seek care in hospitals, for fear of being arrested. For the past six months, Doctors Without Borders had become one of the few remaining providers of medical care for those injured in clashes with security forces. The group indeed notes that it has treated almost 200 “injured and ill patients who did not seek care in health facilities because they feared being arrested.” In addition, its doctors had also “seen patients in villages across the country who have refused urgently needed hospitalization due to the high risk of arrest, and others who were severely beaten in jail.”

Besides the doctors, nurses, human rights advocates and Ayat Al Qurmezi, those arrested and tortured include members of Bahrain’s national soccer team.

Executives of the European Tour have decided not to hold a golfing tournament in 2012 there in the wake of the killing of protesters. But even as the island kingdom continues to deprive its people of basic human rights and medical care, Bahrain remains a US ally and houses the US’s fifth naval fleet.


Previous Care2 Coverage

Bahraini Soccer Players Detained & Tortured

Bahraini Doctors Tortured Into Making False Confessions (VIDEO)

8 Bahraini Activists Sentenced to Life in Prison

Photo of Zainab Al-Khawaja by Conor McCabe

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Jennifer C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Jane L.
Jane L.4 years ago

it is no the end when the good have not won, but a temporary defeat.
when everyone is in prison, who is there left to rule? the government is nothing but the filth of bloodied money they saught so hard to horde to themselves. it's unfortunate that the government is killing its own people. Looks like the world is a prison and the only spark of freedom lies in the prisons itself.

I thought it was empowering to see women protesting to so adamently among the men and it's amazing to see citizens caring fore ach other, unified at a time like that. In particular, it was touching to see food distribution and the male voiceover say "this is for my country." It was beautiful to see a person signing - without the use of words - an expression of unity between the suni's and sh'ia's (sp?).

Must've been distressing to hear the live panicked shouts of a doctor declaring the chaotic state of a peaceful protest....

Very powerful documentary. I hope things improve soon...

Janice S.
Janice S.4 years ago

God Bless Doctors without Borders I hope they are back there soon!!! God bless all the doctors and nurses in the hospital trying to help those injured in the protests. I hope long term rights and freedom will be gained by the people of Baharain.

Janice S.
Janice S.4 years ago

I am very sad to learn of the people who died. God bless those "fighting " for their freedom by peceful protest instead of violence. My prayers are with them.

Sharon Balloch
Sharon Balloch4 years ago

So sad for so many people.. when will this end??

Madi Von
Madi Von4 years ago

Why does someone always want to control other people's lives? If everyone just followed the simple rule of live and let live, there would be so much less of everything horrible in this world.

Pradip Chavda
Pradip Chavda4 years ago

It happens everyday in India in one place or the other. We, are so docile a population and maybe a little selfish (not by choice but due to fear and desperation) that if we find our house is safe we get into a shell and say ALL IS WELL. No matter if the surrounding is on fire. Our present rulers have CASTRATED every one.

Ameer T.
Ameer T.4 years ago

Human rights violations are everywhere these days. There isn't a country in the world that does't have human rights issues. But muslim countries are specifically highlighted to demonise Islam further.

The way US forces violated the Geneva convention in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and are still violating them there secret prisons such as Abu Gharib, Baghram Jail, Gitmo, Tarbella and so on. With activities such as water boarding, electricuting the prisoners, torture, arrests based on suspicions, night raids and arrests, shooting unarmed children and women civilians.............

Hilary A.
Hilary S.4 years ago

religi-ocracies and human rights abuses do seem to go hand in hand. how does that come about?

Winn Adams
Winn Adams4 years ago

Thanks for the info