Bahrain Government Makes U—Turn on Military Courts
Washington, DC – Human Rights First today criticized the Bahrain government’s sudden decision to bring back military courts to try pro-democracy activists. The group called the development as shocking as it is duplicitous. “The world needs to take notice that the government of Bahrain has brought back its discredited military courts, which is further evidence that meaningful reform in that country is an illusion,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “I met with many people in Bahrain last month who had been told their cases would now be heard in civilian instead of military courts. They were lied to.” More than a dozen doctors and other medical professionals have been summoned to appear before the military court on Sunday August 28, even though the Bahraini authorities announced on June 26 that they were transferring all cases from military courts to civilian courts. Among those waiting to have their cases heard are medics like Roula Al-Saffar, the head of the Bahrain Nursing Society, who was released from detention yesterday after four months in custody. Roula studied at Widener University in Pennsylvania and at the University of North Texas. She also worked for many years as a nurse at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. Though she has been released, the charges against her have not been dropped and she has now been summoned with her colleagues to appear before the military court on Sunday. “The U.S. government has been publicly silent on Bahrain for some time now. It has not disassociated itself from the discredited National Dialogue nor spoken out against the police attacks on peaceful protests over the last few weeks. In light of this latest development, it should say clearly and publicly that any step back to military courts will have consequences for the relationship between the United States and Bahrain,” Dooley concluded.