8 thoughts on “Bahrain persecution of doctors

  1. Bahrain medics seek UN probe of prison sentences

    Updated October 01, 2011 04:06 PM

    MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — A group of Bahraini doctors and nurses sentenced to long prison terms for links to anti-government protests are appealing to the U.N. chief to investigate their claims of abuse and judicial violations.

    A statement on Saturday by the 20 medical professionals in Bahrain follows questions by the U.N. human rights office and the U.S. State Department about the fairness of their trial before a special security court.

    The group was sentenced on Thursday to between five and 15 years. Charges included attempting to topple the Gulf kingdom rulers and spreading “fabricated” stories.

    The medics’ claim they are being punished for speaking out about against the crackdown by the Sunni monarchy against Shiite-led protests for greater rights that began in February.

  2. Low turnout in round two of Bahrain vote

    (AFP) – 1 hour ago

    DUBAI — Voters turned out in low numbers for a second round of by-elections in Bahrain on Saturday boycotted by the Gulf state’s Shiite opposition, witnesses said.

    The elections were held to replace 18 MPs of the main Shiite opposition formation Al-Wefaq, who resigned in February shortly after Shiite-led protests sparked a deadly response from authorities in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

    Four deputies were elected on September 24 in the absence of any competitors, and five seats were allocated. In nine districts, “no candidate received 50 percent of the vote”, necessitating the second round.

    Witnesses said less than a dozen voters in 20 minutes turned up on Saturday at the largest polling station in Sehla, while a sole voter cast his ballot over the same period in the Shiite village of Sanabes.

    Polling was brisker in special stations set up outside Shiite districts to allow voters to take part without being identified.

    “Obviously if Al-Wefaq were here it would have been better but I understand their decision to boycott,” said one voter, Khaled Ibrahim, 48.

    An independent candidate in Sehla, Ali al-Haddad, said he would not have run if Al-Wefaq had taken part, calling for the release of political prisoners and the rehiring of sacked employees for taking part in anti-regime protests.

    The first round was held in an atmosphere of tension. The opposition reported a low voter turnout but the government said 51 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots.

    The interior ministry said 22 people were arrested last month for attempting to obstruct the vote by closing roads, damaging cars in a parking lot near a polling station or by pouring oil in front of another.

    Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.

  3. World arms deals and tilting at windmills

    Sep 30, 2011 14:17 EDT

    Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

    For the United States, the world’s leading arms merchant, a controversial deal with the tiny island state of Bahrain is negligible, less than half a percent of America’s total sales. But it helps explain efforts to regulate the global arms trade more tightly.

    The proposed sale in question is worth $53 million, involves 44 armoured Humvees, a variety of missiles, and night vision equipment. The Pentagon announced it in mid-September, just three months after the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Eileen Chamberlain Donahue, in a speech in Geneva, included Bahrain on a list of governments that “repress dissent with impunity.” Along with Syria, Yemen and Libya, the royal rulers of Bahrain responded to the Arab Spring democracy movement by killing and jailing opponents.

    In mid-September, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency told Congress that the deal would “contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major non-NATO ally that has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.” The advocacy group Human Rights Watch said the U.S. appeared to “reward repression with new weapons.”

    That would make it hard for people to take seriously American statements about human rights and support for democracy, said Maria McFarland of Human Rights Watch. The deal should be delayed until Bahrain ends abuses against critics, she said on September 22.

    Since then, the Bahraini rulers took more action that provided fodder to its critics. On September 29, a court sentenced a protester to death for allegedly killing a policeman and sentenced doctors who had treated wounded protesters to prison terms from five to 15v years.

    Bahrain, connected by a causeway to Saudi Arabia, is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, there to guard shipping lanes that carry around 40 percent of the world’s tanker-borne oil. The Pentagon’s explanation of the deal echoed decades of U.S. policy that placed a higher value on stability than on democracy.

    That kind of thinking was part of the reason why a group of Nobel Peace Prize winners, in 2003, launched an initiative to establish an international Arms Trade Treaty that would close gaps in existing arms control regulations and set legally binding standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons.

    After various preparatory meetings, the United Nations General Assembly is scheduled to convene a conference next July to work out a robust Arms Trade Treaty. The enterprise brings to mind an image of well-meaning Don Quijotes tilting at windmills. Why? Since the end of the Cold War, the international arms trade has become more complex, more competitive and more driven by economics rather than ideology.

    SHRINKING MARKET, FIERCER COMPETITION

    Then, “providing conventional weapons to friendly states was an instrument of foreign policy utilized by the United States and its allies. This was equally true for the Soviet Union and its allies,” writes Richard Grimmett, the author of the latest report on the global arms trade the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides annually to the U.S. Congress. Now, “the principal motivation for arms sales by key foreign suppliers…may be based as much, if not more, on economic considerations as of those of foreign or national security considerations.”

    That holds true, too, for the U.S.(where defense and aerospace companies provide an estimated 800,000 jobs) and it holds especially true at a time of declining world-wide orders for arms because of the global recession. In 2010, according to the CRS report, world-wide arms transfer agreements totaled $40.4 billion, a decline of almost 40 percent compared with 2009.

    The U.S., long the world’s top arms supplier, ranked first again in 2010, with arms deliveries (as opposed to agreements) worth $12.2 billion, more than twice as much as second-ranked Russia. Germany came third, evidence of what the CRS report described as weapons-exporting countries looking for new clients in areas where they have not played major established roles.

    The German government faced fierce domestic criticism in July after reports on a planned deal to sell 200 top-of-the-line Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia, which had sent troops and tanks across the causeway to Bahrain to help crush anti-government demonstrations. Unlike the U.S., Germany has no direct security interests at stake in the region. But like the U.S., Germany has a defense industry that needs exports to flourish. Its main arms manufacturers employ around 80,000 people.

  4. Pingback: Bahrain keeps fighting against dictatorship | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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