News / Middle East

Bahrain Doctor Tells of Abuse, Coerced Confession

Henry Ridgwell

Bahrain's attorney general has ordered a retrial in civilian court for 20 doctors who were sentenced to up to 15 years in jail by a military judge last week.

International condemnation of the doctors’ sentences combined with protests within Bahrain, appear to have persuaded the government to order the retrial.

The doctors were arrested after treating injured anti-government protesters earlier this year. One of the medics, Dr. Nada Dhaif, a mother of two young children who was sentenced to 15 years, says she was forced to confess to her charges.

Currently at her home in Manama after a successful appeal for a civilian retrial, she says charges were motivated by sectarian discrimination.

"My charges were occupying a public building which is the main hospital in Bahrain, the Salmaniya Medical Center; using force and weapons," says Dhaif. "The other serious one was inciting overthrow of the regime in Bahrain. My only crime ... is that I did my job. I obeyed the [medical] oath. I helped people. 99% of the medics, 99% were all Shia. So I think we are being targeted based on our sect."

Dhaif helped set up a medical tent at the Pearl Roundabout in central Bahrain, the focal point of anti-government protests in February and March.

A violent crackdown
Human rights groups estimate over 30 people died and hundreds were injured as security forces cleared protesters from the site. The Bahrain government has accused protestors of illegally occupying the site and plotting to overthrow the Sunni al-Khalifa monarchy.

Dhaif says it wasn’t until after the foreign troops arrived from Saudi Arabia to aid the Bahrain government in March that she was arrested.

"They stormed into my house [and] I didn’t know who these people were," she says. "They were wearing civilian clothes, fully armed with weapons and guns and they were all masked. I was pulled out of my bedroom and thrown in a civilian car."

It was shortly thereafter when Dhaif says she was coerced into signing a confession after being kicked, beaten and spit upon. "They threatened me with rape," she says.

Rights groups stay vigilant
Saïd Boumadouha of the London-based human rights group Amnesty International, who followed the military trial closely, questioned the court's judicial integrity. "The president of the court [was] a military officer, the prosecution [was] military prosecution, the place or building belonged to the military judiciary which is part of the Ministry of Defense or BEF, Bahrain Defense Force," he says. "Trials before these courts have been grossly unfair."

Boumadouha says anti-government protestors have been driven out of central Manama but that clashes with security forces continue in surrounding villages. "The protests of March and February have really, really divided and polarized the society between Sunni and Shia which it quite dangerous," he says.

Human rights groups are urging U.S. officials to delay a proposed $53 million arms sale to Bahrain, home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, until Bahrain takes meaningful steps to address human rights violations.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid