Medical staff on trial in Bahrain

June 27, 2011

Dozens of doctors and nurses accused of undermining Bahrain’s government during mass protests earlier this year, are currently on trial.

Prosecutors claim the accused took over the Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama, stored and funneled weapons to protesters and effectively kept people prisoner. But the medical staff members, their lawyers and international human rights activists have said that the defendants were tortured to extract confessions. According to reports from Physicians for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and Doctors Without Borders, witnesses said security forces stormed the capital city’s main hospital where they fired tear gas and other chemical agents and beat doctors and demonstrators.¬†Activists and human rights groups allege that medical workers are being prosecuted in this small Persian Gulf country because they did provide treatment to anti-government protesters.

Physicians for Human Rights, an IFHHRO member, released an emergency report about this case in April 2011. This report titled “Do No Harm: A Call for Bahrain to End Systematic Attacks on Doctors and Patients”¬†provides forensic evidence of attacks on physicians, medical staff, patients and unarmed civilians with the use of bird shot, physical beatings, rubber bullets, tear gas and unidentified chemical agents. The report details systematic and coordinated attacks against medical personnel, as a result of their efforts to provide unbiased care for wounded protestors.

Trial resumes for Bahraini doctors accused of aiding protesters, CNN, June 21, 2011,