In response to peaceful protests demanding greater political freedom and equality that started thee years ago today in Bahrain, the government responded with excessive force, using tear gas as a weapon and targeting activists and health professionals with torture and arbitrary detention.
As members of the Syrian government, opposition forces, and international actors gather for Geneva II – the latest round of peace negotiations – it is crucial that all parties prioritize the end of systematic violations on medical care and targeted blockades of civilian communities.
Earlier this week, South Korea agreed to halt the sale of tear gas to Bahrain following mounting pressure from the Stop the Shipment campaign and human rights organizations. South Korea’s refusal to supply the country with additional tear gas makes a strong statement of support for human rights and other countries should follow its example.
2013 hit a low point, bringing about a new and more ferocious wave of targeted attacks on medical personnel and facilities. In an effort to destroy opposition, hide wounds inflicted by government authorities, and intimidate doctors from treating protesters and fighters, medical care -- and those who take an oath to provide it -- has come under a full assault.
PHR has long-condemned the use of health care workers for intelligence work, as it destroys the trust necessary for effective doctor-patient relationships and leaves patients suspicious of doctors’ medical advice. Kidnappings that took place in Pakistan recently are just one example among many of distrust of health care workers, which has served to increase the number of polio cases in the country.