Caabu: Bahraini government must release jailed medics
30 September 2011
Caabu condemns the decision by a Bahraini military court to sentence 20 medical professionals to jail terms of up to 15 years, and calls for their immediate pardon and release.
The doctors and nurses treated protesters wounded during pro-democracy protests which began in February and were violently suppressed by the government. They also spoke to foreign news organisations and allowed them to take photographs in the hospital. As a result, they have been accused of conspiring to overthrow the monarchy.
Commenting on the verdicts, Caabu Director Chris Doyle said:
“The jail terms handed down to the Bahraini doctors and nurses are appalling and must be reversed. The verdicts of the military court came after sham trials devoid of due process. It certainly appears that the only crime of those convicted is to have treated protestors shot at by their own government, whilst asking for freedom and dignity.”
Caabu also calls on the British government to apply real pressure on the Bahrain over the jail terms, and urges the UK to press the regime in Manama for their immediate release.
1 - For more information or interviews, please contact Chris Doyle on 07968 040281.
2 - On 29 September, a Bahraini military court handed down jail sentences ranging from five to 15 years to 20 doctors and nurses. The medics were convicted of conspiring to overthrow the monarchy, with specific charges ranging from seizing a hospital, taking hostages, and using ambulances to transport weapons to protesters, to smearing the government by pouring blood over patients to exaggerate their injuries. Amnesty International has called the verdicts – which were handed down by a military court following trials lasting just 7 minutes, in which no evidence was produced – “a travesty of justice”. Those convicted made claims of abusive treatment whilst in custody, and said that they had been forced into signing written confessions to their ‘crimes’.
3 - British Foreign Secretary William Hague described the trials as “worrying developments” and has said that they “could undermine the Bahraini Government’s moves towards dialogue and the reform needed for long-term stability in Bahrain.”
4 - In a separate case, another man, Ali Yusef Abdulwahab, was convicted of killing a policeman by running him over during the protests. He has been sentenced to death by firing squad.