News / Middle East

Bahrain Court Decision on Medics Sparks Outcry

Bahrain Court Upholds Medics’ Jail Terms As Protests Continuei
|| 0:00:00
X
October 02, 2012 9:44 PM
Bahrain's highest court this week upheld the prison 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. Henry Ridgwell reports.]]
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid