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For Immediate Release

Rights Violations Still Common in Bahrain on Second Anniversary of Protest Movement

Cambridge, MA - 02/14/2013

Two years after political protests first erupted in Bahrain, the government continues to routinely violate the human rights of protesters, PHR said today.

In fact, the death toll from violent clashes that have marked the past two years continued to inch up today when security forces shot and killed a 16-year-old boy participating in protests held to mark the second anniversary of the Arab Spring movement for greater democracy in that Persian Gulf kingdom.

“While so many Bahrainis who yearn only for peace, justice, and a greater role in shaping their own destinies have sacrificed their security, their health, their jobs, and in some cases even their lives, it is dismaying to see how little progress the country has made toward those goals,” said Richard Sollom, PHR director of emergencies. “The government of Bahrain, while giving lip service to the need for political and social reforms, has proved unwilling or unable to carry out its commitments.”

PHR investigations into human rights violations since the protests began have documented attacks on doctors and hospitals, the incursion of security forces into hospitals to intercept and arrest wounded protesters, and the use of tear gas not merely for crowd control but as a weapon to wound and harm.  

“Very little has changed on the ground since we published our findings last year,” Sollom noted. “Tear gas is still being used extensively and in inappropriate circumstances, medical neutrality of hospitals is continually violated, and physicians who should be treating patients are now banished from their jobs or even languishing in prison simply for exercising their rights to express their opinions.”

PHR repeats its previous calls for the government of Bahrain to take a number of actions:

  • End the militarization of hospitals by removing security forces and guaranteeing access to medical care to all those who need it.
  • Suspend the use of tear gas until security forces can revise their procedures to limit its use to conventional crowd control.
  • Release from prison immediately all medical professionals convicted in connection with caring for protesters or for expressing their opinions.
  • Offer to reinstate medical professionals fired from their jobs on political grounds and to compensate those who were detained, tortured, or dismissed by their employers.
  • Hold accountable all officials and security officers who committed human rights violations.

“The two-year anniversary of the start of the protests should have provided an opportunity to reflect on the progress made on all of these fronts,” said PHR Washington Director and Chief Policy Officer Hans Hogrefe. “Instead, the Bahraini people continue to press for political change while the government perpetuates its policies of targeted intimidation, summary detention, and excessive force.”

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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