Physicians for Human Rights denounces yesterday’s decision by a Bahrain appeals court to uphold the prison sentence of a prominent human rights activist involved in organizing protests against the regime.
PHR's Susannah Sirkin writes on CNN Opinion: "Some of the bravest people I know are cowering today in eastern Congo, wondering where their supporters are. While our daily news zeroes in on Syria and Gaza, the fiscal cliff and Christmas sales, our friends in the war-ravaged part of the immense, mineral-rich Democratic Republic of the Congo are once again convulsed in a conflict they did not choose."
On 21 November, 23 health professionals in Bahrain were sentenced to three months in prison on charges of illegally gathering during Arab spring protests in 2011. Five others were acquitted. Richard Sollom, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights said: "We are disappointed, though not surprised, that the Bahraini regime once again has decided to punish health professionals merely for expressing their right to peaceful assembly.
PHR’s close ally Dr. Denis Mukwege recently survived a near-fatal attack at his home in Eastern Congo in the lead-up to the extraordinary violence that has engulfed the region. Dr. Mukwege is renowned for his work treating victims of sexual violence. PHR’s Susannah Sirkin told The Lancet, “The biggest impact is Mukwege's voice and any attempt to silence his voice is harmful to past and future victims.” PHR is now calling on the Congolese government to fully investigate the attack.
The government responded Wednesday to criticism by Amnesty International and others who have charged that the Persian Gulf monarchy is intensifying its repression of dissidents, and abandoning reforms it promised after cracking down on a popular uprising last year. The government drew fresh criticism on Wednesday, when a court sentenced 23 medical workers to three months in prison on the charge of “illegal gathering,” according to Physicians for Human Rights.