News / Middle East

    Bahrain Court Decision on Medics Sparks Outcry

    Bahrain's highest court this week upheld the sentences against nine medics accused of aiding opposition protesters during demonstrations last year in the capital, Manama. The case has drawn international criticism of the Gulf kingdom, where the Shia majority continues to protest against the Sunni rulers.

    Bahraini authorities arrested the nine medics in Manama at the height of last year's protests as uprisings swept across the Arab world.

    Their convictions include theft of medical equipment, occupying a hospital and incitement to topple the state.

    Dr. Nada Dhaif was among 20 medics arrested, but her conviction was quashed by an appeals court in June.

    "These charges, they absolutely have no base and no proof at all," said Dhaif.  "These are all political verdicts against the doctors and medics in Bahrain in order to punish them for treating the patients."

    All the medics are from Bahrain's Shia majority. Shia protesters are demanding greater freedom and equality from the Sunni al-Khalifa monarchy.

    Covadonga de la Campa of Amnesty International called the court's decision outrageous.

    "They have no more recourse to appeal and if their sentences are implemented they will be sent back to prison," said De la Campa.  "If they are sent back to prison we would consider them to be prisoners of conscience."

    Despite the government crackdown, the protests continue on an almost daily basis.

    Jane Kinninmont is an expert on Bahrain at the London policy institute Chatham House.

    "The opposition says that there are over 1,000 political prisoners," said Kinninmont.  "The government for its part says that there is not a single one. One of the problems is that one year on from the Bahrain independent commission of inquiry, there is very little in the way of objective, reliable sources of information that are believed by both sides."

    That inquiry was meant to answer accusations of police brutality and torture against the protesters. Seven officers are being put on trial.  But medic Nada Dhaif believes it is just for show.

    "They attend the trials wearing their uniforms," added Dhaif.  "They're not even suspended. Whatever the government is promoting that they're doing reforms and they are in the process of putting the torturers and the perpetrators in front of justice, it's not real."

    Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmad bin Muhammad Al Khalifa did not mention the protests directly, instead accusing Iran of meddling in his country's affairs.

    Analyst Jane Kinninmont of Chatham House says the protests in Bahrain rarely make the headlines in the West.

    "I think it's partly an issue of media access, but it is also something that's quite uncomfortable for Western politicians who are trying to draw a distinction between their allies and the human rights abusers of the Arab world," Kinninmont noted.  

    In further protests Saturday, police shot dead a 17-year-old boy during what the opposition claims was a peaceful rally. The interior ministry says the teenager was throwing firebombs.   Nineteen months after protesters took to the streets, Bahrain's uprising shows few signs of dying down.

    List of convicted medics on Doctors in Chains.org.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora