Monday, June 6, 2011

Bahraini medics stand trial

Many doctors and nurses have been arrested in Bahrain since anti-regime protests began in February

Source: Press TV

Dozens of Bahraini medical professionals have appeared before a military court for trial over giving medical treatment to the injured anti-government protesters.

Some 24 doctors along with 23 nurses and paramedics were charged with crimes that included participation in efforts to overthrow Bahrain's monarchy, taking part in illegal rallies and refusing to help persons in need, on Monday.

Medical staff in the Salmaniya Medical Complex in the capital Manama were also charged with lying and exaggerating on satellite channels with the aim of tarnishing the international image of the country.

But activists and human rights groups say the medical personnel were arrested and are being prosecuted for treating anti-regime protestors.

Bahraini doctors have repeatedly said that they were under professional duty to treat all and rejected claims by the authorities that helping anti-regime protesters was akin to supporting their cause.

The 47 accused have been in detention since March, when the country declared martial law as part of a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters.

A number of Bahraini female doctors were released from prison last month after they agreed to sign every confession paper they were given following days of brutal torture and being subjected to verbal abuse.

They were also forced to sign many pledges, including not to take part in any protests and not to talk to media.

A freed doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said she was forced to testify against some male doctors and accusing them of mobilizing medics to join anti-regime protests.

Her interrogators also ordered her to say that she served medicines "only to one sect of people who wanted to topple the regime."

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have severely criticized the Persian Gulf sheikhdom for its brutal crackdown on civilians, doctors, nurses, lawyers and journalists, who have voiced support for the protest movement.

Since anti-government protests began in Bahrain in mid-February, regime forces, backed by Saudi troops, have arrested many people, including opposition activists, journalists, teachers, students, doctors, and nurses, and destroyed dozens of mosques and other religious sites.

Scores of people have been killed during the crackdown.

Bahraini protesters demand an end to the rule of Al Khalifa dynasty.

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