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Bahrain Jails Medics for Treating Injured Protestors

BBC Arabic reported that a Bahraini military court sentenced one protestor to death for killing a policeman during an anti-regime protest in March. The court also issued harsh prison sentences to 20 medical professionals working at al-Salmaniya Hospital in Manama during the protest movement. Thirteen medics were sentenced to 15 years in prison. According to the Bahrain News Agency, the medics are being charged with "forcefully occupying Salmaniya Medical Centre…possessing unlicensed arms and knives, incitement to overthrow the regime, seizing medical equipment, detaining policemen, and spreading false news." Several written testimonies of the sentenced doctors indicate that they were physically and psychologically abused, tortured, beaten, sexually harassed, and humiliated while in custody.  

Doctors form a human chain at Salmaniya Hospital fearing an attack by riot police in Manama


On June 14, after Bahrain started the trial of 48 medics, journalist Robert Fisk dispatched an eyewitness account from the hospital to The Independent. He wrote that he saw doctors desperately trying to save the lives of injured protestors shot by Bahraini forces, describing the charges as "a pack of lies."


One of the sentenced doctors, Dr. Fatma Haji, told the BBC that the medics' only crime "was that we helped innocent, helpless people who were just protesting and got injured." In a video to her three-year-old son, she maintained her innocence and expressed hope that when he is old enough to understand, he will be proud of her.


Amnesty International condemned the Bahraini regime for its harsh sentences against the health practitioners. Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme described the charges against the medics as "ludicrous." The Dublin-based human rights organization Front Line also condemned the sentencing after a "deeply flawed and unfair trial." It declared that medical care has been "criminalized" in Bahrain.


In July, Human Rights Watch issued a 54-page report documenting the government's abuses against citizens since February, and called on the Bahraini regime to immediately end its systematic policy of arresting and abusing medical personnel and patients.


(Photo: Doctors form a human chain at Salmaniya Hospital fearing an attack by riot police in Manama, on March 15/ Reuters)


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