This video is called Doctors and nurses on trial in Bahrain (CNN report).
By Bill Van Auken in the USA:
15 June 2011
The US-backed dictatorship of the al-Khalifa dynasty in Bahrain proceeded this week with the military trial of 47 doctors and nurses rounded up during mass protests last March.
This judicial travesty, which is emblematic of the ferocious repression unleashed by the regime of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa against the demonstrations that swept the country last February and March, has elicited no word of protest from Washington.
While the Obama administration has daily demanded “regime-change” in Libya and questioned the “legitimacy” of the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it last week welcomed a Bahraini crown prince to the White House and praised the regime for its commitment to “reform” and “dialogue.”
The hearing in the military court in the Bahraini capital of Manama had to be adjourned Monday after defendants rose to denounce the fact that they had been tortured during the 90 days they were held without trial.
While a state of emergency, akin to martial law, was formally lifted by the Bahraini regime at the beginning of this month, the military tribunals that it established remain in operation.
The Times of London, the only foreign newspaper allowed into the court, reported: “When asked to confirm his name, Ali al-Ekri, a senior surgeon at Salmaniya hospital in Manama, attempted to make a statement. ‘I want the court to know that all our confessions were obtained through torture,’ he said.
That the Bahrain tyrants trusted the English Times most of all media in the world to report favourably on their regime’s show trials is sad testimony to the decline of the Times since it became part of the empire of warmongering anti-democrat Rupert Murdoch.
However, the Bahrain absolute monarchy seems to have supposed that Mr Murdoch, besides getting rich from his empire, would also do all the reporting work himself, which is impossible. Every now and then, a Times report which is not really consistent with the close minded world view of the Right slips through the net; as a faint echo of pre-Murdoch days when many people considered the Times conservative but more reliable than many other conservative media.
The newspaper reported that the male prisoners “had their heads shaved and several looked gaunt and tired … The women also looked drawn.”
“Dr. Ali al Ekri, an orthopedic surgeon, and Rula al Saffar, the head of the nursing society, said their confessions were extracted after they’d been tortured,” McClatchy reported. “They said they had to sign the papers while blindfolded.”
In response, a military officer serving as judge demanded that the defendant say nothing outside of pleading “guilty” or “not guilty.”
“When Dr. Zahra al Sammak, an anesthesiologist, insisted on describing the torture to which she’d been subjected, she was ordered escorted from the hearing,” according to McClatchy.
Several defense attorneys also charged that their clients had been tortured and demanded that they be granted an independent medical examination to corroborate their testimony. The military judge responded by saying that he would have the defendants examined by a military doctor.
The case was adjourned until June 20 for those charged with felonies, and June 27 for those accused of misdemeanors.
“They were not given the chance to tell the court what has happened to them in custody,” one of the defense attorneys told the Times after the hearing. “They were referred to a military doctor so there is no chance of an impartial examination.”
Amnesty International issued a report last week citing relatives who reported that the security forces had “forced detainees to stand for long periods, deprived them of sleep, beat them with rubber hoses and wooden boards containing nails, and made them sign papers while blindfolded.” They also said that the prisoners had been held in groups of 10 in cells measuring no more than six meters square.
The charges against the medical professionals range from the preposterous—that they stockpiled weapons and stole medicine—to the patently political—that they acted, as the official Bahraini news agency put it, to “distort the image of Bahrain within the international community,” presumably by reporting how many men, women and children killed and wounded by the security forces had been brought to Salmaniya hospital, which received the bulk of the casualties during the repression last February and March.
The most pernicious and unfounded charge is that the accused refused to treat patients “based on their sect affiliations.” …
An annual report detailing US-authorized arms sales agreements to governments around the world shows that the Obama administration authorized a more than doubling of the amount of military sales to Bahrain last year as compared to 2009. While the government had approved $88 million in military hardware for the al-Khalifa regime in 2009, by 2010 this figure had risen to $200 million.
Included in this amount was $760,000 worth of rifles, shotguns, assault weapons and ammunition, which undoubtedly was utilized by the Bahraini security forces in the bloody suppression of the demonstrations against social inequality and for democratic rights.
Robert Fisk: I saw these brave doctors trying to save lives – these charges are a pack of lies: here.
MANAMA: Many of Bahrain’s doctors are working 30 hours at a stretch – a dangerous workload: here.
Bahrain Snapshot: The Regime Welcomes You to Summer Festival of Hope and Love: here.
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