News / Middle East

Bahraini Source Contradicts Government Version of Crackdown

Black smoke billows from burning tents in Pearl Roundabout in the Bahraini capital, Manama, on March 16, 2011, when anti-government protesters were dislodged from the square by security forces
Black smoke billows from burning tents in Pearl Roundabout in the Bahraini capital, Manama, on March 16, 2011, when anti-government protesters were dislodged from the square by security forces

Multimedia

Audio

The Bahraini government has said it would lift a state of emergency on June 1. But controversy surrounding a violent government crackdown against anti-regime demonstrators continues to hang over the small island nation.

At the heart of that controversy are reports that the Bahraini government dispatched troops to intercept wounded protesters and prevent them from reaching a central hospital, and took action against medics who treated demonstrators that did get through.

A few days ago we spoke to Dr. Nabeel al Ansari, chief of emergency medicine at the hospital in question. He emphatically denied the reports. Following up on the story, VOA’s David Byrd was able to contact a trusted source believed to have first-hand knowledge of the protests and the events that transpired earlier this year at Salmaniya Hospital in the Bahraini capital, Manama. The person he spoke to requested that their name not be used and we have altered the person’s voice to protect their identity.

Listen to David Byrd’s interview with our Bahraini source:

Byrd: What did you see at Salmaniya Hospital during the first confrontations in the middle of February?

Bahraini source: During the first day, initially in the morning we got a few injured patients and then they stopped bringing patients. And then we discovered that the ambulances were banned from reaching [to] the protestors and there were no patients coming. So that’s why the medical personnel protested against the minister that how he banned the ambulances from going and bringing more injured patients. That’s the first day.

Byrd: Now, let’s go forward to the middle of March, it’s around March 15 or 16 when the government cracks down on the Pearl Roundabout [a major congregation point for anti-regime protesters]. What did you see going on at Salmaniya at that time?

Troops are seen guarding one of the entrances of Salmaniya Hospital in Manama, Bahrain, March 18, 2011
Troops are seen guarding one of the entrances of Salmaniya Hospital in Manama, Bahrain, March 18, 2011

Bahraini source: They attacked the roundabout. And immediately the military was surrounding the hospital with tanks and so many military people and masked men; we, the medical personnel, were inside and we were caught inside. Nobody was allowed to go out or to come in. I was there actually very early in the morning … before they came.

But any medical personnel who came after that, they didn’t allow them to come in. And we were waiting in the emergency expecting more injures - you know, expecting more injured people. But we didn’t get any, because they didn’t allow the ambulances to go any bring injured patients.

What happened at that time, the people in the roundabout - because they couldn’t reach [the] Salmaniya medical complex, which is the main hospital on the island - they started running away and those people who [were] okay they took the severely injured to nearby health centers, which are the primary health care places. A clinic, like a GP [General Practitioner], GP’s are there. So they took them there and they took them to some private hospitals. There were lots of injuries but we didn’t receive any in Salmaniya.

Byrd: The Hippocratic Oath [oath historically taken by doctors] says to do no harm; now there have been accusations that there were sectarian divisions in the distribution of treatment. Did you see any of that?

Bahrainis carry a wounded anti-government protester in Manama during the first wave of the crackdown, February 18, 2011
Bahrainis carry a wounded anti-government protester in Manama during the first wave of the crackdown, February 18, 2011

Bahraini source: Of course not! Of course not! We never ask the patient whether he’s Sunni or Shi’a. That’s all fabricated by the government. I mean, we have been living [as] Sunnis and Shi’as for years and we have very good relationship with each other. We are friends; we marry from each other and [a sectarian division] that’s not existing at all. We never ask a patient whether he is Shi’a or Sunni. That’s just the government trying to give a sectarian picture for the revolution.

Byrd: Did you happen to see President Obama’s speech to the Middle East last week and if you did, did he say what you were hoping he would?

Bahraini source: No, no, actually we were very frustrated. We thought that he would have a much stronger speech on Bahrain. He mentioned a good point about, you know, burning the Shi’a mosques and he mentioned that they have to go for dialogue and they have to release the opposition, but it wasn’t strong enough to ensure that they will do what he said or you know it wasn’t enough to emphasize the human rights violations here in Bahrain, which so many societies and so many very credible organizations have reported.

Byrd: What do you think the U.S. government should do in response to the crisis there and is President Obama’s speech strong enough or is more necessary?

Bahraini source: I think what we want to emphasize is the role of the U.S.A. in our problem in Bahrain. I think they have a big role and they should use their role in trying to solve this problem.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs