Bahrain Government Renews Attacks on Bahrain Medics
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today expressed concern at reports that the Bahrain government has taken new actions against some of the medics convicted by a military court in 2011. This morning the public prosecutor’s office questioned one of the medics, Dr. Fatima Haji, and accused her of insulting the Ministry of Interior in an interview she gave last year to France 24 about the affects of tear gas. Last week another medic, Dr. Saaed Al Samahiji, was sentenced to one year in jail for insulting the king of Bahrain during remarks he’s alleged to have made at a funeral in September 2013.
“The continued targeting of medics for their criticism of the regime shows how little has really changed in Bahrain since 2011. No senior official has yet been held to account for the torture of the medics or of other prisoners, and the regime is once again summoning and sentencing medics for peaceful dissent,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “The United States should immediately condemn these charges and convictions as it did when Dr. Al Samahiji and Dr. Haji were convicted in 2011.”
In September 2011, Dr. Al Samahiji and Dr. Haji were convicted along with 18 other medics after treating injured protesters during the uprising and telling the international media about the cause of the injuries. The 20 medics were convicted by a military court after being tortured into signing false confessions and sentenced to between five and 15 years in jail. Following an international outcry nine of those convicted, including Dr. Haji, were acquitted in June 2012 and others had sentences reduced. Dr. Al Samahiji spent a year in prison. Two other medics convicted in that case, Dr. Ali Alekry and Dr. Ibrahim Demastani, are still serving prison sentences. Another 27 medics were tried in a separate case.
“Bahrain claims it is reforming and is training its officials in human rights. But where it matters – in interrogating and jailing people for peaceful dissent – little has changed,” said Dooley.
Human Rights First continues to urge the U.S. government to publicly push for the release of political prisoners in Bahrain and to include all key opposition leaders in negotiations for reform.