Bahraini Doctors and Nurses Charged With the Equivalent of Treason

47 Bahraini medical workers — 23 doctors and 24 nurses — are being charged with acting against the state for treating pro-democracy protesters injured in demonstrations that began in February. They will be tried in a military court on charges that are tantamount to saying they have committed treason against the government. 

Separately, the BBC reports that Matar Matar and Jawad Fairuz, two former Parliament members from Bahrain’s main Shia opposition group, Wifaq, were taken from their homes on Monday evening and have yet to be heard from.

According to the Arab News:

During the unrest, medical staff repeatedly said they were under professional duty to treat all and strongly rejected claims by authorities that helping anti-government protesters was akin to supporting their cause.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the justice minister read the charges against the 23 doctors and the 24 nurses, which also include “promoting efforts to bring down the government” and “harming the public by spreading false news.” International rights groups say Bahrain is targeting medical professionals who treated injured demonstrators at the Salmaniya medical center, which was later overrun by the military.

Last week, four anti-government protesters were convicted of killing two policemen during the protests and sentenced to death; three other protesters have been given life sentences. At least thirty people have been killed in the protests in Bahrain and at least 400 detained.

The BBC says that, last month, Bahraini troops swept down on the country’s largest hospital, the Salmaniya Medical Centre in the capital of Manama, to put down the protests which have primarily included members of the majority Shiite Muslim population. 

The hospital had become a shelter for demonstrators and doctors were providing information on the number of dead and wounded.

Officials said the facility had been “overrun by political and sectarian activity”. Dozens of doctors, nurses and other medical staff disappeared.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Sheikh Khaled read out the charges facing the medics, which included promoting efforts to bring down the government, harming the public by spreading false news, embezzlement of public funds, forcefully occupying a public building, incitement, and participating in illegal protests.

The Reuters news agency said the medics were also being charged with “assault that led to death”. It quoted the justice minister as saying they had caused the deaths of two protesters by inflicting additional wounds to one and performing unnecessary surgery on another.

“The medical profession was strongly abused during this period,” he said.

King Hamad Bin Issa Al Khalifa, whose family has been in power for more than 200 years, declared martial law in Bahrain on March 15 and called in troops and tanks from Saudi Arabia. 

Physicians for Human Rights has issued a report about the continued abduction of doctors and nurses in Bahrain, noting that there is “hard evidence of systematic and co-ordinated attacks against medical personnel because of their efforts to provide unbiased care for wounded protesters.” Furthermore, it’s rumored that the doctors and nurses could face the death penalty or life in prison — for doing their duty, to treat patients entrusted to their care.

Bahrain’s main opposition newspaper, Al Wasat, has also been accused of compromising national security. The paper will be shut down next week and three of its former editors go on trial on March 19.

Currently Bahrain houses the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, “Washington’s main counterweight against Iran’s expanding military influence in the oil-rich Gulf,” says the Arab News. With not only protesters but doctors and nurses persecuted, can the US continue to stand by in the face of such human rights abuses?

Take Action: Sign the petition to release Bahraini doctors and nurses.

 

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Photo of Bahraini nurses by Al Jazeera English.

92 comments

bob m.
bob m8 years ago

Sniff sniff sniff;;;; something smells funny.
Well; we have a spinahmedia ...soooooo alls well in palookaville.
Watchin the walls come down Binny.

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Khat Bliss
Past Member 8 years ago

The hypocrisy in Baharain is unbelievable. Used to be the place Saudi's went to "drink" and have "fun". But really, its all the same fricking day isn't it!?! My heart goes out to the doctors and nurses who see a life and try to save it not matter who, what or when...Blessings!

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Susanne R.
Susanne R8 years ago

According to Wikipedia, "Bahrain's record on human rights is described by Human Rights Watch as "dismal." The government of Bahrain has been accused of marginalizing the native majority Shia population, capturing and torturing political prisoners, and extracting confessions from prisoners under great duress."

As despicable as this action is, I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the government of Bahrain prevents medical personnel from treating protesters. What a terrible choice for people who have dedicated their lives to treating the sick and injured to have to make!

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Ahmed B.
Ahmed B.8 years ago

Lindsey, as i said before, i am telling you first hand at what actually happened. If you'll search for this via international media, you wont find a thing because they do not wish to supply the real story, im sure the story would be more "selling" and "apalling/interesting" if they stood with the side of those "pro-democratic protesters", if you're actually in Bahrain, you would know that this is nothing like that.

I am trying to work on better and stronger foreign media center here in Bahrain to fight the propaganda. Its difficult, but i assure you, the truth will prevail.

Even reporters who come here dont want to talk to the majority supporting the country and regime, and focus on those "peaceful" minority. And even if they do sit with the "pro-gov" they do not publish .. It weird actually, but what i know now is that the middle east will never rely on int'l media, for me, they have lost their credibility.. I will find it hard to believe whatever next story is on the int'l media.

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Ron B.
Ron B.8 years ago

Hmm I wonder if the republican Terrorist fascists have gotten word of this yet??? they I am sure will pick the opportunity to do the same IF anyone openly supports The new Health care systen ... you know the one that stops insurance companies from denying treatment or jacking the premiums so high you cant buy food ...

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Lindsey DTSW
.8 years ago

And, of course, if the medical personnel did act as you report with regard to patients, they should be tried, convicted, and sentenced for their actions.

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Lindsey DTSW
.8 years ago

Ahmed, after I read your comment, I looked for other stories about this matter. I was trying to see what the actual legal charges were that are being brought against the medical staff and if those charges specifically included treating protesters. I couldn't find anything which included all the specific charges in total - only stories that implied that treating protesters was one of the charges.

However, if the actual charges did not include charges for treating protesters, then the situation may be different as you say.

I certainly won't accept at face value what the Bahrani government says about the situation (since obviously they are trying their damndest to crack down on protesters in what they correctly see as a national emergency). But if there have been no specific charges brought against medical personnel for medically treating protesters, then the news media is indeed skewing its stories.

It seems we'll have to wait for more details to emerge.

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Ahmed B.
Ahmed B.8 years ago

Lindsey, "To penalize a doctor or nurse for treating a patient - any patient - is ridiculous. In an emergency all that should matter to a medical responder is the physical need of the patient. Not his political views."

Exactly, but those "doctors" were not penelized for trating patients, they REFUSED to trat patients due to sect, religion, etc

However, under this inhumane practice, some people who were used by doctors for dramatic effects passed away. Investigations have so far identified two such victims:

a. Ali Ahmed Ahmed Abdullah

He was admitted into the Salmaniya Medical Complex on 17 February 2011 after he sustained an injury to his thigh. He underwent a surgery in the presence of the media in the operating theater . However, for the sake of media drama, the surgeon added several wounds to the patient's body. The injured area was deliberately expanded, which caused a hemorrhage that could not be controlled. The patient was transferred to the intensive care unit where he died on the same day.

b. Abdulridha Mohammed Hassan:

He was admitted on 17 February 2011 after he was shot in the head. He underwent a surgery in the presence of the media in the operating theater. For the sake of media effects, an unnecessarily large incision was opened in the head, which caused an uncontrollable hemorrhage. Cotton was used to stop the bleeding and covered with a dressing. The patient was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where he died two days later.

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Ahmed B.
Ahmed B.8 years ago

I am also tired of the word "dictator" being used to describe King Hamad.. You know that this "dictator" helps every Bahraini citizen no matter what the sect, religion, etc..?

For example, if you are unemployed in Bahrain then the government gives you 150 dinars (~$400) a month and actually helps you to find a job. They pay you until you find a job. This shows that Bahrain cannot be compared to Egypt. It is very different. Please bear in mind that this is only ONE of the many things he provides for his fellow citizens, this is why it hurts us Bahrainis to listen to all the Hate incited towards him and us loyal silent majority. We will not be silent forever, for we have awaken.

I have been called a gov't slave, a troll, a "baltajy" (thug), a naturalized citizen, a liar, etc. You get all this if you defend your country? I am sorry but this is the whole truth and nothing BUT the truth.

Please read this and see what really happened and take a look at all the human rights violations that occured in Bahrain from those who claim they were "peaceful" --

http://brave-bahrain.blogspot.com/2011/04/abusing-human-rights-in-bahrain.html

Please read til the end and then tell me what you think.

PS. Bahrain is peaceful again, people returned to school, work, daily routines etc. Thank God. The months of anarchy have been long gone and we hope it never comes back.

Thank You.

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Lindsey DTSW
.8 years ago

To penalize a doctor or nurse for treating a patient - any patient - is ridiculous. In an emergency all that should matter to a medical responder is the physical need of the patient. Not his political views.

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