Bahraini regime accuses doctors who attended repression victims

Bahraini Ministers reporting
to the press. (Photo: BNA)

The Bahraini Military Public Prosecution is accusing 24 doctors and 23 nurses, paramedics and administrators who attended victims of the security forces “for their involvement in the recent deplorable unrest”, said the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowment Minister, Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al-Khalifa, on Tuesday.

But Richard Sollom, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights, assured that those accused "provided ethical and life-saving care to protesters who were shot at and injured by the security forces”. “These are trumped up charges. I don't believe the government has the basis for them," said Sollom to British newspaper, The Independent.

At least 21 people were killed during the crackdown, according to the most authoritative version disclosed by the Bahrain Human Rights Society, a focal point of Social Watch in that country.  

Sheikh Khalifa said that the accused “medical and paramedical staff got involved in activities that sharply clashed with standard medical work and ethics”, because “their practices violated all humanitarian, religious, ethical and genuine citizenship values and norms and turned into barbarous crimes”. 

The Minister claimed that the official death toll “topped 33 people —16 protestors, 4 ‘martyrs of the duty’, among them policemen, nine citizens and foreigners due to terrorist acts, in addition to four others who passed away for various reasons, including traffic accidents and angina pectoris”. 

The version spread by BNA says that those accused “took full control” of the Salmaniya Medical Complex, the largest hospital in the country, and “used” it “extensively for the activities of the saboteurs who sought to spread chaos, cause disruptions and trouble and create sedition” and “to store weapons”.

According to the Ministry, the defendants also forged records to “produce fake statistics” and “did not allow the treatment of some citizens and residents based on their sect affiliations”. 

On the contrary, Physicians for Human Rights said there is "hard evidence of systematic and co-ordinated attacks against medical personnel because of their efforts to provide unbiased care for wounded protesters", reports the BBC.

"The results of our findings were pointing to a wholly different conclusion," told Sollom to Reuters news agency. "These doctors provided medical care for protesters, sometimes life-saving, who were shot at by police. They're flipping this upside down."

Physicians for Human Rights version of events is consistent with one of the first reports published on February 23 by the Bahrain Human Rights Society, which states that the “attacks on medical staff trying to help the injured protestors on the morning of February 17 after the attacks on protesters” and on “first-aid tents set up by protesters” as one of the many “grave human rights abuses committed by Bahraini security forces”. The report mentions that the acts of repression included “barring ambulances from reaching injured and dead protesters in Pearl Square, thereby further increasing the death toll”.  

The Government also announced that intends to prosecute as many as 50 medical workers, including dozens of doctors, with “promoting efforts to bring down the government” and general charges of being involved in an “anti-state conspiracy.”

Bahrain News Agency report: 
Bahrain Human Rights Society report: 
Reuters report:
The Independent report:
BBC report: