PHR today expressed dismay at the decision by Bahrain’s Lower Criminal Court to sentence 23 health professionals to three months in prison on charges of illegally gathering during Arab spring protests in 2011. Five others were acquitted.
Nearly five months after being acquitted of crimes related to Bahrain’s anti-government uprising, some Shi’ite medics remain suspended from work and fear they may never practice medicine in the country again. A senior researcher with Physicians for Human Rights, Abdulrazzaq al-Saiedi, says he believes the government is behind the ongoing interrogations.
“We urge all demonstrators to protest peacefully and exercise restraint,” said Richard Sollom, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights, who has investigated human rights abuses in Bahrain. “We also urge the Bahraini government to end its ban on all public demonstrations and allow citizens to exercise their fundamental rights of expression and assembly.”
Bahrain imposed emergency-style rules Tuesday banning all protest gatherings and threatening legal action against groups considered backing escalating demonstrations in the Persian Gulf kingdom. Physicians for Human Rights says doctors and nurses have been detained, tortured, or disappeared because they have "evidence of atrocities committed by the authorities, security forces, and riot police" in the crackdown on anti-government protesters.
After Bahraini medics and doctors assisted injured protesters during the uprising in Manama in February 2011, they were accused of inciting sectarian hatred and the overthrow of the regime, and then detained, tortured and harassed for nearly two months. The individual stories can be found on the human rights website Physicians for Human Rights.