Bahrain persecution of doctors continues

From Zaman daily in Turkey:

While the Arab Spring continues to unfold with events in Syria, Egypt and Libya grabbing the headlines, in the tiny island Gulf state of Bahrain there is increasing concern from the international community over the detention, trial and sentencing of medical doctors and other health professionals by the Bahraini government.

From POMED in the USA:

During yesterday’s State Department daily press briefing, the Bahraini arms sale came under heavy scrutiny and criticism.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland noted “that this sale is designed to support the Bahraini military in its external defense function, specifically in hardening the country against potential attack or nefarious activity by countries like Iran, et cetera, and we do have an interest in Bahrain and our other Gulf partners being able to be strong militarily vis-à-vis the regional challenges that they face.”

Yet, when further pressed about the issue of making sure once the arms are delivered, how the U.S. will confirm they are not used internally, Nuland noted “We do have in all of these sales, and including in this one, end-use monitoring agreements where we are allowed to go in and monitor how this equipment is being used; is it being used for the purpose that we agreed to when we agreed to the sale.” A follow up question was asked about the arms sale being used as a bargaining chip for the Bahraini [government] to change their human rights record, the press secretary responded “I don’t think that’s an accurate way to portray this. This is a foreign military sale for use against an external threat. However, whenever we sell military equipment, we have to – we hold countries to high human rights standards.” Nuland further pressed the issue of the sale will only be used for external use and a monitoring system will be in place, but gave no further detail about the issue of human rights or actual accountability.

Bahrain regime continues to target freedom of expression by taking journalists and photographers to trials: here.

BCHR and CIVICUS Joint Open Letter to the King of Bahrain: here.

BCHR Letter to ILO re Bahrain’s commitment to decent work standards and the violations against trade union action: here.

Tumblr blocked in Saudi Arabia? Here.

13 thoughts on “Bahrain persecution of doctors continues

  1. UK protestors picket Bahrain trade event

    By Claire Ferris-Lay

    Sunday, 16 October 2011 5:10 PM

    A business seminar aimed at pushing trade ties between the UK and Bahrain was mobbed by protestors in Manchester in a bid to deter investment in the Gulf state, local newspapers said.

    Demonstrators chanted slogans and urged the Manchester Chamber of Commerce not to support Bahrain, which drew global criticism following a bloody crackdown on protestors earlier this eyar.

    Representatives from Bahrain, which was forced to cut its forecasts for economic growth this year by two percentage points after widespread political unrest, spent four days in the UK last week in a bid to reinforce bilateral trade between the two countries.

    Friday’s demonstration is not the first time British protestors have taken to the streets against Bahrain’s handling of its political unrest. In March, hundreds gathered outside the Bahrain embassy in London calling for the downfall of the Gulf state’s government. …

    Governments across the world are coming under increasing pressure to curb their trade ties with Bahrain following its crackdown on protestors at the beginning of the year.

    The Gulf state in March imposed martial law and called in troops from its Gulf neighbours in a bid to quell weeks of unrest amid mass pro-reform demonstrations in which more than 30 people have died.

    Five US democrats last week appealed to the Obama administration to postpone a $53m arms sale to Bahrain.

    In a letter to the US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton the group warned the sale, which includes 300 missiles amongst other military equipment, would weaken US creditability, media reports said.

    “The United States must make it clear to the government of Bahrain that its ongoing human rights violations and unwillingness to acknowledge legitimate demands for reform have a negative impact on its relationship with the United States,” the group said.

    “In a country with a population of only 525,000, this represents a systematic effort to intimidate and punish those who promote democratic reform.”


  2. Most MPs call for premier’s sacking

    JORDAN: A petition demanding the prime minister’s sacking signed by more than half of all MPs was presented to King Abdullah II today.

    MP Mamdouh Abbadi said 70 of the 120 MPs had put their names to the petition.

    Parliament’s call is not binding as the body is in recess but Mr Abbadi said the king could still sack Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit.

    Mr Bakhit is accused of trying to stall democratic reforms pledged after demonstrations earlier this year.


  3. Report: More than 5,700 people questioned in Bahrain unrest

    October 17, 2011 12:39 AM


    MANAMA/WASHINGTON: Local media in Bahrain say the international panel investigating months of anti-government protests and crackdowns in the Gulf kingdom has interviewed more than 5,000 witnesses and alleged victims over the past three months.

    A report in Bahrain’s state-owned Gulf Daily News newspaper says investigators have spoken with 5,700 people about the unrest that began in February when the kingdom’s Shiite majority rose up to demand greater rights.

    The Bahrain Commission of Inquiry was set up in July with the consent of the country’s Sunni rulers.

    Sunday’s report in the English-language newspaper says detainees, police personnel, doctors and journalists are among those interviewed by the five-member panel.

    Its findings will be published in a report due by Oct. 31.

    Separately, the Obama administration said Friday that a proposed arms sale to Bahrain is designed only for the Gulf kingdom’s “external defense,” seeking to soothe concerns the weapons would be used on protesters.

    In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Republican Senator Marco Rubio echoed other lawmakers’ concerns in urging the administration to delay the sale of any items in the $53 million weapons package that could be used against protesters in Bahrain.

    But State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland insisted the weapons sale “is designed to support the Bahraini military in its external defense function, specifically in hardening the country against potential attack or nefarious activity by countries like Iran.”

    “And we do have an interest in Bahrain being able to be strong militarily vis-a-vis the regional challenges that they face,” Nuland added.

    She also stressed that Washington considers human rights concerns before seeking arms sales.

    The senator’s letter came as pressure mounted in Congress against the proposed sale after Bahraini security forces in mid-March crushed a month-long protest that authorities say left 24 people dead, including four policemen. The opposition puts the death toll at 31.

    U.S. lawmakers expressed dismay in January when it came to light that tear gas used against Egyptian demonstrators against deposed president Hosni Mubarak was found to be “Made in America.”

    Since then, some have sought tighter restrictions on weapons and non-lethal equipment provided to Middle Eastern governments that could be used against protesters in the “Arab Spring” pro-democracy movement.

    Bahrain, located strategically in the Gulf opposite Iran, houses the base of the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

    A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 17, 2011, on page 10.
    (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::


  4. RCSI admits it made mistakes in Bahrain

    16 October 2011 By Susan Mitchell

    The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has conceded that it made mistakes in Bahrain regarding its treatment of medical personnel.

    It was responding to an article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that criticised its conduct in the Gulf state.

    ‘‘We accept that we did not live up to the high standards we set for ourselves in every instance, and we must work to learn from this,” RCSI president Professor Eilis McGovern said in a letter to the BMJ.

    The RCSI was responding to extensive criticism of its response to the torture and trial of medical personnel in Bah-rain, where it has a large medical school.

    The editor of the BMJ claimed that the RCSI would be open to charges of complicity if it failed to speak out about the imprisonment, torture and trial of doctors in Bahrain.

    Sentences of up to 15 years’ imprisonment were handed down by the military court, before retrials were ordered in the civilian courts in Bahrain.

    ‘‘The seven months since the Bahraini unrest commenced have been an unprecedented period of challenge for RCSI. We have endeavoured, as events unfolded, to make the best decisions possible,” McGovern said in the letter.

    However, in an interview with the Irish Medical Times, RCSI chief executive Professor Cathal Kelly conceded that ‘‘wholly inappropriate’’ actions were taken by RCSI staff in Bahrain without the knowledge of RCSI in Dublin.

    He ‘‘unreservedly apologised’’ for actions taken by staff at the RCSI Bahrain, including the interviewing of three students who were asked to swear an oath of loyalty to the ahraini royal family and sign a declaration that they would not participate in further protests.

    Bahraini authorities had complained about the students’ attendance at the protests last February. There has been an international outcry over the treatment of the medical personnel who are accused of incitement to overthrow the regime.

    Three of the doctors trained at the RCSI and worked in Irish hospitals. The RSCI has been criticised for its failure to condemn the treatment of the medics, who said they were persecuted for treating wounded anti-government protesters.

    The doctors have denied accusations of sectarian bias in treating patients.

    Kelly said the RCSI had worked behind the scenes, and that it had ‘‘access to what we believe to be key influencers in Bahrain. We felt that the best approach for us would be to continuously advocate in private with key influencers for a better outcome and to address the issues of concern.”

    He added he was ‘‘very mindful’’ that the day the college took a strong public stance would be the day that it lost that access.


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