News / Middle East

    Bahrain Court Cases Resume For Doctors, Anti-Government Protesters

    Dr. Ali al-Ekri, left, Dr. Nada Dhaif, center, Dr. Fatima Haji, 3rd right, and Dr. Saeed Samaheeji, right, leave the Manama, Bahrain, courthouse  after a trial session appealing security court convictions and sentences against them and other medics, Janua
    Dr. Ali al-Ekri, left, Dr. Nada Dhaif, center, Dr. Fatima Haji, 3rd right, and Dr. Saeed Samaheeji, right, leave the Manama, Bahrain, courthouse after a trial session appealing security court convictions and sentences against them and other medics, Janua

    The judicial process in Bahrain has resumed for doctors and other medical staff who were sentenced to prison after they treated pro-democracy demonstrators injured during a government crackdown last year. Meanwhile, a civilian court overturned death sentences for two protesters convicted of murdering two policemen during the violence.

    A military court in September sentenced 20 health workers to up to 15 years each in prison.

    But following a barrage of international criticism, Bahrain’s attorney general overturned the convictions and ordered retrials in a civilian court.

    In addition to the charge of occupying the main Salmaniya Hospital, some of the medics are accused of storing weapons, refusing to treat government supporters, stealing medical equipment, and lying to the media. They deny the charges.

    Bahrain’s main opposition party al-Wefaq has been one of the most vocal critics of the government’s treatment of the medical workers.  Spokesperson Jasim Hussain insists the group is being punished for helping injured protesters.

    "The process was wrong from the very beginning," said Hussain.  "These people should be set free and compensated, reinstated back in their jobs so they can go about providing services to the people."

    Pro-democracy demonstrations began in Bahrain in February following successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.  The protesters came largely from the kingdom's Shi'ites, who say they are treated like second-class citizens and not given the same benefits as the ruling Sunni minority.

    Most of the early protests took place at the Pearl Roundabout in the capital Manama.  However, after security forces stormed the area, many protesters relocated to Salmaniya Hospital.

    Bahraini authorities say medical staff used Salmaniya as a “control center” for the opposition movement.  Government troops were later sent in to occupy the complex.

    Since March, authorities in the small Persian Gulf state have been accused of tracking down and punishing anyone who took part in the anti-government rallies.

    Rights groups say thousands of opposition supporters have been arrested, and many of those arrested claim they were tortured while in custody.  More than 50 people have been killed since protesting began.

    According to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, thousands of mostly Shi’ite employees have been fired from their jobs in various sectors because of their political views.  Those dismissed include a number of medical professionals.

    Dr. Fatima Haji, a former employee at Salmaniya who is on trial, was originally sentenced to five years imprisonment.  She says she and her colleagues are currently prohibited from working in the medical field, have had their salaries frozen, and are banned from travelling outside the country.

    "They are fighting us on a different level," said the doctor.  "There are campaigns running in the newspapers and the local TV ruining our reputation, so basically they are hunting us. When I think about it, we are living in hell."

    The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report published in November stated that “many detainees were subjected to torture and other forms of physical and psychological abuse” after being detained.

    The commission also stated there was no evidence that the accused medics possessed weapons or refused to treat Sunni patients.

    According to Dr. Haji, it remains unclear whether the report will have any impact on the trials.  It is also unclear when the court will deliver its final verdicts.

    "We know that we are innocent and we didn’t do anything wrong. We asked for our basic rights. The people here in Bahrain are asking for their basic human rights," she said.

    The government showed some signs of softening Monday as a civilian court also overturned death sentences for two protesters convicted of murdering two policemen during the violence. Their sentences were originally handed down by a security court set up under emergency law last year.

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora