Bahrain’s Secret Terror

The intimidation and detention of doctors treating dying and injured pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain is revealed today in a series of chilling emails obtained by The Independent. At least 32 doctors, including surgeons, physicians, paediatricians and obstetricians, have been arrested and detained by Bahrain’s police in the last month in a campaign of intimidation that runs directly counter to the Geneva Convention guaranteeing medical care to people wounded in conflict. Doctors around the world have expressed their shock and outrage. One doctor, an intensive care specialist, was held after she was photographed weeping over a dead protester. Another was arrested in the theatre room while operating on a patient. Many of the doctors, aged from 33 to 65, have been “disappeared” – held incommunicado or at undisclosed locations. Their families do not know where they are. Nurses, paramedics and ambulance staff have also been detained.

The intimidation and detention of doctors treating dying and injured
pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain is revealed today in a series of chilling
emails obtained by The Independent.

At least 32 doctors, including surgeons, physicians, paediatricians and
obstetricians, have been arrested and detained by Bahrain’s police in the last
month in a campaign of intimidation that runs directly counter to the Geneva
Convention guaranteeing medical care to people wounded in conflict. Doctors
around the world have expressed their shock and outrage.

One doctor, an intensive care specialist, was held after she was photographed
weeping over a dead protester. Another was arrested in the theatre room while
operating on a patient.

Many of the doctors, aged from 33 to 65, have been "disappeared" – held
incommunicado or at undisclosed locations. Their families do not know where they
are. Nurses, paramedics and ambulance staff have also been detained.

Emails between a Bahraini surgeon and a British colleague, seen by The
Independent, describe in vivid detail the threat facing medical staff as they
struggle to treat victims of the violence. They provide a glimpse of the terror
and exhaustion suffered by the doctors and medical staff.

Bahraini government forces backed by Saudi Arabian troops have cracked down hard
on demonstrators since the unrest began on 15 February – and the harshness of
their response has now been extended to those treating the injured.

The author of the emails, a senior surgeon at the Salmaniya Medical Complex,
Bahrain’s main civil hospital, was taken in for questioning at the headquarters
of the interior ministry in Manama. He never re-emerged. No reason has been
given for his arrest, nor has there been any news of his condition.

In a series of emails, passed on in the hope of drawing attention to the plight
of he and his colleagues, the surgeon describes appalling scenes at Salmaniya
hospital, with staff being threatened and detained in increasing numbers for
treating injured democracy protesters.

"Interrogation committees question me about our role in treating the injured
protesters, who are considered now criminal for protesting against the
government," he said, shortly before being detained. "We said we were there to
treat patients and have nothing to do with politics.

"I don’t have good feeling about things going on in Bahrain. So many of our
consultant surgeon and physician colleagues been arrested at pre-dawn raids and
disappear."

On 17 February, at the start of the demonstrations, he wrote: "It has been a
long day in the theatre with massively injured patients equivalent to a
massacre. Things are still volatile and [I] hope there will be no more death."

By mid-March the situation had deteriorated rapidly: "Right now I am in the
hospital exhausted and overwhelm by number of youth lethally injured casualty,
it’s genocide to our people and our hospital doctor and nurses are targeted for
helping patients by pro government militia, so many doctors and nurses been
physically attached for just attending injured one. ambulances smashed or
targeted by military.

"I well leave know, marshal law imposed just few hours ago. I am grateful for
what [name cut] taught me, it make it possible for me to help and save allot
over the last days."

There followed a long silence before he wrote again: "Three weeks of hell. The
military took control of the Salmaniya Hospital, doctors, nurses, paramedics and
patients treated as suspects by soldiers and policemen. Daily interrogation and
detention to some of our colleges." He added: "Very much intimidated and
frighten."

The surgeon’s British colleague said yesterday: "My friend is a very nice, very
hardworking surgeon and totally apolitical. He was taken in for interrogation
and hasn’t been seen since.

"He and his colleagues have had a dreadful time. They have been proper doctors
treating whoever turned up. His detention is appalling. Doctors are supposed to
treat patients whoever they are, not locked up because they are caring for
supposed dissidents."

John Black, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: "These
reports of harassment of medical staff in the ongoing unrest in Bahrain,
including surgeons trained in the UK, are deeply disturbing. The protection and
care of people wounded in conflict is a basic right guaranteed by the Geneva
Convention and one that every doctor or medical institution should be free to
fulfil."

Michael Wilks, vice-president of the British Medical Association and a former
chair of the ethics committee, said: "The Geneva Convention and international
medical ethical standards are absolutely clear – punishing doctors because they
are perceived to be treating patients of whom the regime disapproves is
completely unacceptable."

The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness
Ashton, has expressed concern about the killings and beatings in Bahrain, ahead
of a visit there.

Extracts from one doctor’s emails

Thur 17 Feb 2011 at 9.24pm

It has been a long day in the theatre with massively injured patients equivalent
to a massacre. Things are still volatile and hope there will be no more death.

Tue 1 Mar 2011 at 8.43am

I have been very busy with so many injured patients some of them very serious
one.

Tue 15 Mar 2011 at 4.05pm

Right now I am in the hospital exhausted and overwhelm by number of youth
lethally injured casualty, it’s genocide to our people and our hospital doctor
and nurses are targeted for helping patients by pro government militia, so many
doctors and nurses been physically attached for just attending injured one.
Ambulances smashed or targeted by military. I well leave know, marshal law
imposed just few hours ago.

I need to see the kids.

I am grateful for what [name cut] taught me, it make it possible for me to help
and save allot over the last days.

Fri 8 Apr 2011 at 6.42am

3 weeks of hell.

The military took control of the Salmaniya Hospital, doctors, nurses, paramedics
and patients treated as suspect by soldiers and policemen daily interrogation
and detention to some of our colleges.

Interrogation committees question me about our role in treating the injured
protester, who are considered now criminal for protesting against the
government, we said we where there to treat patients and have nothing to do with
politics. I don’t have good feeling about things going on in Bahrain so many of
our consultant surgeon and physician colleges been arrested at pre-dawn raids
and disappear.

Not only doctors, nurses paramedics, football players, university academics,
dean of colleges… everybody is a suspect not sure but very much intimidated
and frighten.

I have just walk up and felt of sending you this email to you, I hope this well
not disturb you knowing how much you care about us.


Source: Independent

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