Monday, 24 October 2011

23/10/11: Statement by the Lawyer of the Bahraini Medics regarding the Start of the Hearings before the Criminal High Court of Appeal


In the name of God the most merciful and precious

Statement by the Lawyer of the Bahraini Medics regarding the

Start of the Hearings before the Criminal High Court of Appeal

The Criminal High Court of Appeal yesterday, 23rd October 2011,
held its first hearings of the appeals filed by the Medical Staff and
also by the Public Prosecution. In a precedent considered the first of
its kind in the history of the Courts of Bahrain, the Public
Prosecution distributed among the persons attending the Court
hearing, just a few minutes before the hearing started, an English
statement printed on the Public Prosecution’s letterhead papers,
consisting of three pages. The statement was entitled “Fact Sheet for
Hearing of 23.10.2011.”

In our capacity as the defense lawyers for the Medical Staff charged
in the Case, we hereby lay our response to the Public Prosecution’s
statement and also what the Public Prosecution’s representative
recorded in the hearing minutes, as follows:

First: There is difference in the charges put against the Medical
Staff before the Court of Appeal and those which were put against
them before the military National Safety Court. The Public
Prosecution, for example, dropped three minor charges out of 14
charges put against them. The three charges which the Public
Prosecution dropped from the list of charges are only misdemeanors
the punishment for which does not exceed a maximum of three
years’ prison term. Those three misdemeanors are:

1. Public incitement of hatred to the ruling regime or showing
contempt towards it, which is punishable according to Article
165 of the Penal Code.
Statement by the Lawyer of the Bahraini Medics regarding the Start of the Hearings before the
Criminal High Court of Appeal



2. Publicly broadcasting false or malicious news or statements
which are detrimental to the public interest, which is punishable
by Article 168 of the Penal Code.
3. Inciting others, by any method of publication, not to comply
with the applicable laws or to do any act that constitutes a
crime, which is punishable by Article 173 of the Penal Code.
Therefore, it is clear that the Public Prosecution maintained all
charges against the Medical Staff the constitute felonies, which are
the most grave and serious, mainly the following:

1. Occupying a public hospital which is punishable with up to
life imprisonment as per Article 149 of the Penal Code.
2. Possessing arms without license which is punishable with up
to 15 years’ imprisonment as per Article 7 of the Explosives
and Arms Law.
3. Detaining public
servants and preventing them of carrying
their duties which is punishable with up to 15 years’ imprisonment
as per Article 357 of the Penal Code.
4. Promoting the overthrow of the political system of the State by
force which is punishable with up to 10 years’ imprisonment
as per Article 160 of the Penal Code.
Practically speaking, dropping the said three minor charges by the
Public Prosecution will have no impact on the prison sentences
passed against the Medical Staff, in case the Court of Appeal upheld
the ruling handed down by the military National Safety Court for
any of the felony charges above-mentioned. This is because
according to Article 66 of the Penal Code, a single punishment
which is that or the gravest offense will be applied.

Second: The Public Prosecution said that it shall not rely on the
“confessions” made by the Medical Staff during the interrogation
phase, those “confessions’ on basis of which the military National
Safety Court passed its judgment. This proves the credibility of the
Medical Staff defense that the so called “confessions” were extracted

 Statement by the Lawyer of the Bahraini Medics regarding the Start of the Hearings before the
Criminal High Court of Appeal



through coercion and under torture. As a result, the military National
Safety Court’s judgment, which was based on evidence collected
through an illegal method, becomes of no legal effect or value.

Third: The Public Prosecution said that it intends to submit new
evidence before the Court of Appeal, as established in its statement,
and as declared by the Public Prosecution’s representative before the
Court, which proves beyond any doubt that the evidence submitted
before the military National Safety Court was not enough to convict
the Medical Staff. The Public Prosecution should have, in the course
of disclosing that it needs to submit new evidence to prove the
charges, focused its appeal only on the petition to overturn the
military National Safety Court’s ruling, in order to prove its
keenness to serve public interest, justice and law.

Fourth: It is crystal clear from the Public Prosecution’s statement,
as well as from the assertions of the Public Prosecution’s
representative before the High Court of Appeal, that the Public
Prosecution is still insisting on considering the procedures currently
standing before the Court of Appeal a “re-trial.” This is not true at
all, because all the proceedings existing at present are part of an
Appeal against the military National Safety Court’s ruling, and not
in any way a re-trial. The reason is that a re-trail should involve a
cancellation of an earlier decision and the start of a new trial before
the same Court which issued that earlier decision. This does not
apply to the case against the Medical Staff, because the conviction
ruling is standing, while the Court of Appeal will only hears the
appeal against this ruling.

Accordingly, the term “re-trial” does not at all apply to the current
proceedings before the Court of Appeal. But despite that, the term
“re-trial” was nonetheless used in English version of the Public
Prosecution’s statement issued on 5th October ‘2011 and from which
the word “appeal” was clearly dropped whereas the word “appeal”
was repeatedly used in the Arabic version of the same statement.

If we go along with the Public Prosecution in its contention that we
are in the process of a “re-trial” before the Court of Appeal, this
inevitably proves that the challenge by the Public Prosecution
against the conviction ruling, handed down by the military National

 Statement by the Lawyer of the Bahraini Medics regarding the Start of the Hearings before the
Criminal High Court of Appeal



Safety Court, should be limited to seeking to revoke this ruling only.
This is further supported by the fact that the current proceeding
before the Court of Appeal means that the Medical staffs were
deprived of one stage of litigation before their normal judge.
Furthermore, they were prevented from submitting their defense
during that phase. This cannot be rectified or corrected by only
allowing the judgment of the military National Safety Court to be
challenged by way of appeal.

We are surprised that the Public Prosecution’s statement claims that
the Case is being heard now in “stages,” because the truth is that the
Case has already exhausted the first instance stage of the litigation
stages, which is the most important stage, because the members of
the Medial Staff, who are civilians, were tried before the military
National Safety Court. This important stage has concluded without
the defendants being provided with the opportunity to exercise their
right to defense, as set under the local laws or the international
standards for fair trials. Therefore, the appeal, albeit having been
conducted through different hearings, yet all these hearings are
classified as part of the appeal stage only, contrary to what the Public
Prosecution has stated.

Fifth: It should be noted that the Public Prosecution has
emphasized, in its statement, the right of the Medical Staff to testify
for themselves before the Court of Appeal. Making such testimony,
whether in respect of the torture they were subjected to, or for the
purpose of refuting the charges put against them, is a right that they
have been deprived of before the military National Safety Court,
despite their repeated demands for this right to be provided to them.

All this proves unequivocally the nullity of the trial proceedings
before the military National Safety Court, which has adversely
affected the ruling and inevitably led to the conviction judgment.

Sixth: The Public Prosecution’s statement, in its last paragraph,
stressed that all the hearings of the Court of Appeal will be open to
the public, which inevitably entails that the Public Prosecution
should remove the ban on publication, which has previously been
imposed in respect of this Case.

 Statement by the Lawyer of the Bahraini Medics regarding the Start of the Hearings before the
Criminal High Court of Appeal



From all the above, we conclude that the military National Safety
Court has not proved that any of the charges attributed to the
Defendant, who appeared before it, are true nor that their trial has
been fair under the local laws and the international standards. This
necessarily requires that all the proceedings and measures taken by
the Military Authorities against the Medical Staff, including the
judgment handed down against them, should be overturned. In this
respect, there is no justification for this trial to continue, or to
maintain the unjustified measures related thereto, including the
travel ban imposed against the Medical Staff or suspending them
from carrying out their humane occupations, when their patients
badly need their services. Therefore, and for justice to prevail, we
are looking for these measures to be soon lifted and for the charges
to be permanently dropped and the court proceedings to be
immediately cancelled.

Manama, 23rd October ‘2011.

Lawyers

Hafedh ALI Hameed ALMULLA
Jalila SAYED Ahmed JASIM
Isa IBRAHIM Abdulla ALSHAMLAWI
Hassan RADHI Sami SAYADI
Mohamed ALTRANJA Abdulhadi ALQAYDOOM
Abduljalil ALARADI Ali A.HUSSAIN

 Statement by the Lawyer of the Bahraini Medics regarding the Start of the Hearings before the
Criminal High Court of Appeal



List of Bahraini Medics sentenced on 29th September 2011:


No
Name
Gender
Specialty
Age
Verdict
1
Ali Al Ekri
M
Consultant,
Orthopedic Surgeon
44
15 years in
prison
2
Ali Al Sadadi
M
Kitchen worker in Salmaniya
Medical Complex
15 years in
prison
3
Nader Dewani
M
Consultant, Pediatrician
53
15 years in
prison
4
Ahmed Omran
M
Consultant, Family physician
47
15 years in
prison
5
Mahmood Asghar
M
Consultant,
Pediatric Surgeon
40
15 years in
prison
6
Ibrahim Al Demistani
M
Senior Nurse
43
15 years in
prison
7
Rula Al Saffar
F
Head of nursing society
Assistant professor in College
of Health Sciences
48
15 years in
prison
8
Abdulkhaleq Al Oraibi
M
Consultant,
Rheumatologist
39
15 years in
prison
9
Ghassan Dhaif
M
Consultant,
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
45
15 years in
prison
10
Basim Dhaif
M
Consultant,
Orthopedic Surgeon
47
15 years in
prison
11
Sayed Marhoon Al Wedaei
M
Ambulance Head
36
15 years in
prison
12
Nada Dhaif
F
DenWst
39
15 years in
prison
13
Hassan Al Tublani
M
ICU Consultant
10 years in
prison
14
FaWma Haji
F
Rheumatologist
33
5 years in
prison
15
Deya Ibrahim
F
Nurse
5 years in
prison
16
Najah Khalil
M
Family physician
5 years in
prison
17
Mohammed Al Shehab
M
Lab technician
5 years in
prison
18
Saeed Al Samahiji
M
Ophthalmologist
56
10 years in
prison
19
Qassim Omran
M
Intensivest
15 years in
prison
20
Zahra Al Sammak
F
Consultant,
Anesthesiologist
45
5 years in
prison


 Statement by the Lawyer of the Bahraini Medics regarding the Start of the Hearings before the
Criminal High Court of Appeal

20/10/11: Statement from outgoing RCPI President on Bahrain

Statement from outgoing RCPI President on Bahrain
20/10/2011
At the Annual Stated Meeting of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, held 18 October, Dr John Donohoe, outgoing President of RCPI, spoke about Bahrain in his State of the College Address.

He said, “Since the beginning of this year, unrest and political instability have spread across North Africa and the Middle East. I know that many Fellows and members of this college have had to cope with the medical consequences of violence and turmoil, and often at considerable risk to themselves. I would like to send a message of solidarity to you from the College in these very difficult times.
I am aware that many of our Fellows have been particularly shocked by the events unfolding in Bahrain, where a number of doctors and other health professionals were arrested following protests there earlier this year.
Any country that considers itself modern and progressive has an obligation to ensure that doctors are allowed to practice in a safe and neutral environment where all patients, irrespective of their backgrounds can safely receive the medical care they require. Hospitals must remain as inviolable sanctuaries for this noble purpose.
In our College statement in July we said that it was essential that the judicial process underway in relation to these medical professionals had to be demonstrably and unequivocally fair and just, and be seen to arrive at the truth of what really happened. Anything less than this will not only be a grave injustice, but will also do irreparable damage to Bahrain, its international reputation and the practice of medicine there.
We were therefore deeply disturbed by the subsequent conviction and grossly disproportionate sentencing of these health professionals in Bahrain. That they were tried in a military rather than a civilian court was totally unacceptable, irrespective of the charges against them. The only way that this matter could have been addressed in a just manner was through a civilian judicial process conforming to international standards of transparency and fairness.
The statement by the Bahraini authorities confirming their intention to set aside these military convictions and re-try the doctors in a civilian court goes some way to addressing these concerns. However the international community must be entirely satisfied that the proposed judicial process is carried out in strict accordance with international norms of justice. Furthermore it is hoped that the findings of the Bahraini Independent Commission of Inquiry will further inform and clarify this process.
It is essential that governments and global organisations such as the United Nations continue to exert maximum influence on Bahrain to ensure fair treatment for these health professionals. This College has pursued, and will continue to pursue these serious matters through the Irish government and its Department of Foreign Affairs.”

Media contact:
Aoife Ní Mhaitiú,
Communications Executive
Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
Phone: 01 863 9770
Email: press@rcpi.ie

Friday, 21 October 2011

18/10/2011: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL ARTICLE: Fears for Bahraini teacher after pre-dawn arrest

Fears for Bahraini teacher after pre-dawn arrest
18 October 2011
AI Index: PRE01/533/2011
There are fears for the safety of a former vice-president of the Bahrain Teacher’s Association after she was arrested in heavy-handed fashion before dawn this morning after recently speaking out about earlier abuses.
Jalila al-Salman was taken from her home in Bahrain by a force of more than 30 security officials, including riot police, who arrived in seven vehicles. The officials reportedly said that they were enforcing a court order for her arrest though they refused to produce a formal arrest warrant.
Last month, Jalila al-Salman was convicted on charges that included attempting to overthrow the Bahrain government after a trial before the military National Safety Court, although she is a civilian. Her appeal is due to be heard in a civilian court on 1 December.
“The manner in which Jalila al-Salman was arrested this morning appears to have been intended to intimidate her and her family and to put them through another terrifying ordeal,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.
“She has told us how she was previously ill-treated and verbally abused after she was arrested in the middle of the night by armed officials following popular protests in Bahrain last March. This latest action by the security forces inevitably raises renewed concerns about her safety in detention.”
“The Bahraini authorities also need to explain why Jalila al-Salman has been arrested at a time when others who are waiting for their promised civilian court appeals to be heard have been allowed their release on bail.”
"She does not present a serious flight risk but has continued to speak out about her own experiences in detention and the plight of others, leading us to fear that this is the reason for the action taken against her this morning.”
Jalila al-Salman was sentenced to three years of imprisonment on 25 September. Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, former president of the Bahrain Teacher’s Association, was tried with her and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.
The charges included using their positions within the BTA to call for teachers’ strike, organize marches and demonstrations, incite "hatred of the regime" and seek its overthrow by force, and their trial was unfair.
In recent weeks, Jalila al-Salman has given a media interview and spoken at a conference about the human rights situation in Bahrain.
Amnesty International said that it feared both Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb may be imprisoned solely on account of their legitimate exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, in which case they should be released immediately and unconditionally and their convictions should be quashed.
“If their civilian court appeals are to go ahead, then there must be a totally new investigation, including into the defendants’ allegations that they were tortured and otherwise ill-treated in pre-trial detention and forced to sign statements incriminating themselves, and any officials found responsible for such abuses must be brought to justice.”

21/10/2011: MRS. JALILA AL SALMAN Interview & Testimony received by me today via email from source


It was 1.30 am on March 29. A group of armed men broke into a family home in the Bahraini capital Manama. Some were wearing balaclavas and carrying machine guns. Others had batons. There were at least 50 of them, ransacking the house, shouting at three terrified children whom they found in the bedrooms upstairs.

They barged into another bedroom where a woman was sleeping. “Don't be afraid, we are the police!” - one of the men shouted as he held her by the neck, pressing a gun to her head. You would be forgiven to think that they were raiding a house of an international terrorist. Actually, it was only a teacher they were after.

“I was just in my nightdress. I had nothing to cover myself. I was on my bed and I thought I was dreaming. I could not believe what was going on. My bedroom is the master bedroom of the house, quite large. There were so many men inside that you could not catch a glimpse of the carpet on the floor. I heard a helicopter above my house.”

“They took me outside where there were over 15 cars  parked. They wouldn't let me say goodbye to my children. I was put on a minibus. As we were driving away, they told me to look outside the window as I would never see the outside world again. They hit me and called me horrible names. Names I can't bring myself to repeat. They were on a mission to arrest other teachers that night, we were stopping in front of their houses”

Jalila al-Salman is clearly still struggling to comprehend what has been happening to her in the past six months. Up until very recently she was just a teacher, a vice-president of the Teachers' Association and a mother of three children under 12.

But now, Jalila become one of the symbols of repression of the Bahraini regime. Her sin – taking part in the non-violent protests at the Pearl Roundabout in Manama.  She says that her and her colleagues only went there on the sixth day, Sunday 20, after the King himself appeared on TV saying that everyone had the right to express themselves peacefully. Then and only then we appear at the roundabout. Some of the protestors had already been injured and killed. Among them were teachers. As Bahraini citizens, they “refused to accept that kind of treatment.”

“We told our union members to stand outside schools as a sign of support to our brothers. That was our message. The Ministry of Education refused to talk to us and we only communicated through statements.”

On September 25 Jalila was sentenced to three years in prison by the military court. At the moment she is still at home. Having spent five months behind bars earlier this year, she is terrified that her horrific ordeal will start again.

“Initially I was taken to the CID (Criminal Investigation Directorate). I was kept there for 10 days in solitary confinement, which was very, very dirty. The walls were covered in dried blood. There was a hook hanging of the ceiling. There were no windows. I was forced to stand for almost all of the time. Every five minutes someone would come inside my cell. I was not allowed to lie down or even to go to the toilet or to have water which result in kidney problem that I was treated for. The food they gave me was full of hairs, sand and dirt. I am on medication for high blood pressure and they only allowed me to take it on the fifth day. By that time I was in a really bad state and I was fainting during questioning. Still, I was never allowed to sit down”

Jalila was questioned twice during her time at the CID and made to sign statements which not only she didn't write, but wasn't even allowed to read. She was beaten. Her requests to see a lawyer were met with laughter. However, a threat of rape was the most terrifying.

“During a questioning, one of the men who was wearing a mask, held a gun against my head and tried to take off his trousers. He threatened to rape me and said that they were given a permission to do whatever was necessary to get the statement they wanted.”

Although she had been transferred to the women's prison, she was taken back to the CID on few occasions to have her “testimony” recorded.

“I told them I didn't do anything and could not confess to anything. But they said I would 'see something I hadn't seen before,' If I didn’t do what they want ,they threatened to rape me. I just couldn't let anyone touch me, so I had to say what they wanted. They were stopping and starting the recording all the time, telling me exactly what to say next. I only saw my lawyer for five minutes during my first hearing.”

During the recording, a man called Faisal Fulad was present. Jalila instantly recognised the face which often appeared in the media, as he is a member of the Parliament and, ironically, a founder of the local group, the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society, which claims to fight for women's rights.

The Bahraini Human Rights Watch Society is not be confused with the New York-based Human Rights Watch, which just a few days ago called for the “United States to delay a proposed arms sale to Bahrain until it ends abuses against peaceful critics of the ruling family and takes meaningful steps toward accountability for serious human rights violations.”

The US Defense Department notified the Congress on September 14, of a proposed sale of armoured vehicles and missiles to Bahrain worth US$53 million. The sale would appear to be the first since the start of Bahrain’s crackdown on protests earlier this year.

The Bahraini government has prevented Human Rights Watch from visiting the country since mid-April, and tightly restricts access for journalists and other rights groups. According to a 2011 report by the US organisation, between 2007 and 2009, the Bahraini government regularly practiced torture and ill-treatment in interrogating security suspects. Although government spokesmen have issued denials, there is no evidence of criminal investigations and the government has not imposed disciplinary measures on the alleged perpetrators.

Humanitarian organisations' strong condemnation has not prevented the UK government to follow its American ally and invite Bahrain to the Britain's largest arms fair - despite clear evidence that the kingdom has used imported weaponry to violently suppress pro-democracy protests.

This apparent Western tolerance, and even encouragement of the government-sponsored brutality, has left many surprised and disillusioned. The president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab has accused the UK and US of “double standards” when it comes to foreign policy.

“When people started the revolution on February 14, myself included, they thought that the UK government, as a long lasting ally of Bahrain, would take the same position they had with Libya or Iran when it comes to human rights. But we are shocked to see them ignore our revolution. Even worse, supporting our government by selling them arms. They obviously have their strategic interests which rest with oppressive ruling families in the region, rather than with any democratic movement. That has made us pay a high price.”

The Centre, which has officially been banned by the regime since 2004, has been campaigning for the release of thousands of political prisoners.

“Political prisoners and systematically tortured, including women. We are talking about electric shocks, sexual harassment, beating, isolation for weeks. It is very clear that silencing people doesn't work. More angry people are coming out on the streets. Especially as they see other revolutions in the region are successful and people there are achieving their goals. People of Bahrain couldn't even achieve an even cosmetic reform,”says Nabeel.

Both Nabeel and Jalila seem pessimistic about the future of their country. Jalila has been told months ago not to return to work. She says that the Ministry of Education has started replacing Shia teachers with 2,500 brought from Egypt and another 6,000 “volunteers”, many of whom haven't even completed secondary education. Even those Shias who have not been protesting are not safe. Many Shia doctors had been imprisoned and, according to Jalila, only released after an oversees intervention. The president of the Teachers' Association, Mahdi Abu Deeb, was sentenced to ten years imprisonment, many activists got life sentences.

In June this year king Hamad established the The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) after a broad consultation with, among others, the UN Commission on Human Rights. They are looking into the incidents that occurred in February and March 2011 and the consequences of these events.  It is expected to report on its findings by 30 October 2011.

Following their visit to the women's prison, Jalila and a fellow prisoner were released pending sentencing.

Nabeel is sceptical about its purpose.

“Maybe the government is trying to find the way out by appointing this commission. King is doing it to isolate himself from responsibility because many Bahrainis see him as responsible for crimes against humanity here. The commission might come with recommendation to release the prisoners because, as we know, they were all tried unfairly and illegally. That is a way out for the government. This commission is not going to solve the political crisis, we need a proper solution, a dialogue which will bring people together from all sides. At the moment there is a lack of trust.”

The protesters have had enough of the country which is being run like a private company. Bahrain has had the same prime minister for 42 years and the large majority of the government and the judiciary belong to the ruling Sunni Al Khalifa family. They are calling for an end of discrimination against the Shias and a fairly elected government with genuine power. Although the parliamentary elections were held on Saturday, only 13 people from the opposition participated.

“People don't believe that the parliament is a source of solving their political crisis,”says Nabeel.

“I think we need a third party mediation, other than just from Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. More pressure needs to be put on other oppressive regimes in the region as they are supporting the dictators in Bahrain.”

I ask Jalila whether she would leave Bahrain with her family, if she could. She is adamant that her place is in her country. All she wants is to be allowed to travel to Turkey for a few days with her daughter, who is needs to have an operation to remove her hemangioma there.They refuse to give me that permission.

“I just want everyone to be equal. In my heart I believe that we are all one family.”



19/10/2011: Richard Sollom - for Physicians for Human Rights - RSCI - 'Speak out or Get Out'


Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in Bahrain: Speak Out or Get Out

by Richard Sollom, MA, MPH on October 19, 2011 
UPDATE, 19 October 2011: This week, The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) admitted that staff in Bahrain took ‘‘wholly inappropriate’’ actions following Bahrain’s February protests, and RCSI’s chief executive professor ‘‘unreservedly apologized’’ forforcing students to swear loyalty oaths to Bahrain’s royal family.
The apology comes in response to a British Medical Journal article published earlier this month that cited PHR (pdf), which charged that RCSI would be open to charges of complicity in the detention and torture of Bahrain’s doctors if its administration did not take a public stance.
PHR reiterates the call for an end to the egregious and systematic attacks on doctors in Bahrain and under all oppressive governments. For more information, see PHR’s documentation of gross violations of medical neutrality and human rights in its report Do No Harm: A Call for Bahrain to End Systematic Attacks on Doctors and Patients.

UPDATE, 25 June 2011:  According to the Irish Times, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has expressed “deep concerns for the rights of detained medical personnel” in Bahrain in its first public statement criticising the actions of the ruling regime in the kingdom.
Ireland has a long history of promoting human rights at the international level; the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, later became the top human rights official at the United Nations. But the country’s leading medical institution, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), has been conspicuously absent in the global call for the Kingdom of Bahrain to stop its relentless and systematic attack on medical workers. Since mid-February, reports of human rights violations in Bahrain have increased significantly as Bahraini authorities have attempted to suppress anti-government protests. Given the close ties of RCSI to the Bahraini government, its lack of response should come as no surprise.
This relationship dates back 20 years: the Royal College has run post-graduate courses and exams in Bahrain, and many Bahraini medical students have studied in Ireland.
Several RCSI members have disappeared during the crackdown in Bahrain and targeting of medical professionals, including Ghassan Dhaif, Baser Dhaif and Ali Al Ekri, who was arrested while performing surgery at Salmaniya Medical Complex. The RCSI sent a fact-finding mission from Ireland which met with Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa. However, the mission did not meet with any of the families of the missing medics. After the trip, the RCSI declined to comment on their findings or release a report despite criticism coming from England’s Royal College of Surgeons. Amnesty International Ireland has since spoken out against RCSI, demanding they use their influence to pressure the Bahraini government to release the medics.
The families of the missing have speculated that the reason for the RCSI’ refusal to criticize the government is financial. RCSI Bahrain represents an important starting point for expansion into the Middle East, and the RCSI has invested millions of Euro to bolster their relationship with the Bahraini government.
Medical professionals and the facilities in which they operate provide essential services and receive heightened protections under international law. Amidst violence, medical professionals and institutions must remain firmly dedicated to their duty to provide medical care to those in need regardless of nationality, ethnicity, political affiliation, or other social division. This concept of “medical neutrality” is firmly grounded in international humanitarian law, professional codes and ethics, and international human rights law.
Physicians for Human Rights documented gross violations of medical neutrality and human rights in its recent report Do No Harm: A Call for Bahrain to End Systematic Attacks on Doctors and Patients.
The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has an ethical responsibility to call for an end to the egregious and systematic attacks on doctors – some of whom are their own alumni — who face trumped up charges of medical malpractice and treason. The Royal College must speak out, if not — get out of Bahrain.

21/10/2011: RCSI BAHRAIN - LETTER TODAY Chief Executive CATHAL KELLY: Acknowledges they "have not lived up to their standards".



Wednesday, 19 October 2011

19/10/11: Personal Account of Events in March at Bahrain University by one Bahraini Doctor


An email I received during the week from a Bahraini Doctor.

Personal Account of Events in March at Bahrain University by one Bahraini Doctor

“I am a Bahraini Doctor and today I will tell you about the events that took place at Bahrain University on a Sunday in March.

Our Medical team arrived at Bahrain University in a convoy of two ambulances.

When approaching the University main gate there was a huge angry mob, some were armed with swords, others with wooden batons; most of the crowd did not look like University students judging by their appearance and age.

When the ambulance stopped they started attacking us and shouting and chanting at the medical team.

The University Security Guard stopped the ambulance and asked as what we were doing there? The doctor who was sitting in the front seat explained to him that there were reports of casualties among student protesters, after which they allowed us inside the campus.

Once inside the campus the ambulance stopped near the administration building where we saw signs of what looked like a battle with blood all over the ground.

After a while some male students started to come out when they saw us…. and they were very frightened. They were both Sunni and Shi’a.

They asked the Doctor’s if we could help them get off the campus and if we could see a student who was injured? His injury was not serious according to them, and one of the Doctors went to examine him.

After that a crowd of female students appeared in a very distressed state, they were hysterical after what they had gone through (some of the stories were very alarming and upsetting , however we could not verify these accounts until we saw them released on TV). These young women found refuge in our white coats…… amongst them was a University Lecturer.

One of the Doctors’s recommended that we speak to the Administrative Staff; however the students cautioned us that they were actually responsible for having allowed the mercenaries gain access inside the Campus in the first place.

A while later someone suggested that we should head to the car park what transpired there was an unforgettable scene…. Shortly after we got there, some people appeared and threw objects from a building and broke windows…. inviting some protesters who arrived from the roundabout area.

Anti-riot police appeared with some University security personals.

The anti-riot police started to fire toward the students with teargas and ……. started to call to the people inside the building asking them to come down.

We as a medical team stood our ground as we waited to see if there were any injuries to the people who were inside.

Shortly after that, and after coming down, some of them were enraged and launched that fury toward us accusing us for treating protestors and saying that because of our actions we would suffer the same consequences.

While we were attacked, the police merely watched and asked us to remain calm!

A member of the University personnel was violently assaulted and some of the police stood there casually observing him being viciously beaten-up.

Three or four hooligans charged at us, one with armed with a blade, they almost caught one of the Doctors. One Doctor was struck on the head with a huge wooden plank. Another thug assaulted a nurse, hitting here and throwing her to the ground where he continued to beat her brutally.

Meanwhile an ambulance showed up and suddenly there was a shot fired at the ambulance which broke through its window.

The doctor sitting in the front seat was injured by the broken glass and the staff were threatened by the mob that they would be killed if they didn’t leave immediately.

The ambulance took the injured Doctors and fled. We remained, standing there ……… surrounded by attackers. We started to run and managed to take refuge in one of the adjacent buildings after one of the University Security Personnel allowed us in.

One of the attackers smashed the glass door so we dashed upstairs and hid in one of the upper rooms. The mob stood at the door, pounding on it and threatening to kill us. 

There were nine Medical Staff, two University Teachers who were bystanders, and two Security Staff.

After about an hour of negotiation with other Security Personnel we were told to head to the administration area where we might be offered some safety.

We were taken there by a bus, from where we noticed some uniformed personnel patrolling the area. In the Administrative Office contact was made with Senior Ministry of Health officials regarding our safety and by what means we could get back to the hospital.

Half an hour later some Ministry Officials, among the Dr Amin Alsaati, arrived in an ambulance. When we boarded the ambulance, just as we were leaving the University, we were attacked on the main road…. this time however the police stopped the attackers.

This was without question a shocking, life-threatening experience that the Medical Staff endured for nothing but doing their job.”

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

17/10/11: Re: Bahrain Teachers Society - Correspondence just days ago from A Friend in BH


I am giving this some voice outside of Bahrain.
"Below is the story of Bahrain Teachers Society, if you go through it, you would realised  why Mrs. Jalila  Al Salman and Mr. Mahdi Abu Deeb (President and VP of BTS) are targeted by the regime, in fact by minister of Education Mr. Majed Al-Noaimi, who was a military officer initially before what he is now Minister of Education.

In fact his history as military officer may  justify the current education sector status and give a clue to understand what teachers, academics and students had suffer from and still.
it's obvious why he is charging every protester teacher with treason.
Bahrain Teachers Society acted as teachers union;  exist to help and protect teachers, the role of the BTS is against Dr. Majid Al Noaimi  believes, has concluded into targeting Mr. Abo Ddeeb and Mrs. Jalila Al Salman, and all who was loyal/ member or even participate with the society, given concern to the country  situation, so it was his best chance to hit tem.

Jalila sentenced 3 years and Mahdi 10 years.
this is how they are treating qualifications, in the contrary Ministry of Education are employing the volunteers during the strike, they are totally   unqualified people, this is reach to the extent of a women over 50 does not know howto read or write, was employed as Social Supervisor affairs :)

A group of teachers are thinking  to send a petition to the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for Mahdi Abu Deeb to put pressure on the regime to be  released.

I know you have worked in this issue and am sending this to your attention, maybe you know better more effective way to help.

We need to do something about the BTS to enlighten people as to why teachers are targeted this way.

Thanks again,
  

-- 
"Bahrain Teachers Society was established in October 2000 under the law of the societies in the Kingdom of Bahrain. 

Since its inception, it is working diligently to take care of teachers’ interests, developing the teaching profession and improving the professional and living conditions of teachers. 

It tries its best to work with the Ministry of Education to achieve different teacher’s demands through its committees. 

The society, led by its president Mahdi Abudeeb and his deputy Jalila AL-Salman, is one the establishers of Gulf Teachers Association and the Teachers Islamic Union. 

The society president Abudeeb was elected as a Secretary General of the of the Arab Teachers Federation a year ago, in addition to being the regional coordinator of UNESCO in the field of education for all for the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula.

The teachers count the society as a means to raise the injustice they face from schools managers and officials of the Ministry of Education. 

The society accomplished its full role in this area and its role keep growing between teachers and all employees of the Ministry of Education who are on the teaching staff and fall under the umbrella of the society. 

In turn, the ministry takes into its account the existence of such entity. It became clear in all its statements to the presence of society and try to pull its cadres in various ways and temptations.

Yet ,they did not succeed and the society message is clear that excellence in teachers are the basis of the good of the homeland.

The society has to hold open meetings with teachers on regular basis, and created representatives to the society in various Bahraini schools in order to facilitate communication with the base field. 

During these meetings the society aimed to recognize the concerns and problems of teachers and on their ambitions, in addition to share with them the future steps of the society and its movements. 

Throughout society work, the Minister of Education refused to meet with the Board of Directors, not even once, despite the effort of the Council to set a meeting of this kind. 

This reflects the Ministry’s vision towards the society and it seeks to end the work of the society which is a champion to teachers’ who suffer injustice.

The most important thing done by the society is the campaign that lead to improve the status of living conditions of teachers. The society with its strength, stability and good behavior brought 4 salary raises for teachers in only two years. 

It established an ongoing training project for teachers, which aims to raise the professionalism in general by the representative. 

In addition it provided educational services to various categories of the nation such as youth, people with special needs, and women. 

Through this project it introduced many courses and workshops, many of them were for free, to the various groups. 

Solving the immediate problems of teachers took the priority.

When the project of improving school performance began to in Bahrain, the society had undertaken a number of education and training workshops for teachers to be able to apply what was required to serve the educational process. 

Jalila AL-Salman had a prominent role in this area where she introduced a large number of these workshops at many schools in Bahrain for free, personally supported by her and also by the society, driven by her belief that the societies leading role in turn supported teachers and the Ministry, and reflected on the country in general.

When the revolt began on 14th of February, the society did not show up until after the crown prince and king announced that the peaceful sit-in was LEGAL and it that it was an expression of the citizen's rights. Only then (and after a lot of teachers claimed they were affected), the society bowed to their demands and supported the people in order to follow-up on the teachers problems more closely. 

The following days proved the validity of the decision; the society received hundreds of complaints about the abuses suffered by teachers and students inside schools along with photographs and documentary video evidence. These have been presented to the lawyers to take legal action but they did not seek to achieve this.

Druing the period of protests and after, unbelievable things have happened at schools in Bahrain. No one can imagine that these things happened here in this small country unless it was told by witnesses who were directly affected in person. 

A number of school principals permitted the persecution and humiliation of students and allowed the conduct of loyalty marches within the walls of schools as an answer to what is going on outside throughout the country. 

Also they allowed the riot police to break into schools and enabled the direct infringement of students - this was with the principals deliberate agreement. 

One of the parents recalled what happened at her daughter school, when the principal called a large number of students and locked them up in the gym and then allowed the troops to beat them as they stood and watched. 

In addition to that, a number of Ministry of Education officials visited schools and beat students and teachers, and threatened them with imminent punishment. 

So too there was a the role for (pro-regime) teachers who were responsible for planting hatred in students’ hearts against their teachers who were protesting. 

This was a big surprise to the teachers who were outside schools during Feb events. When the protesters returned to their schools they found that sectarianism had been planted and taken root in the hearts of many youths while they were out of school. And still it continues even now.

The society was forced by all of this to take concrete action to protect teachers and students after sending a request to the Minister of Education to do so. 

And when the M of E did not, the society actively tried to ease the crisis at schools and protect students, teachers, parents and the country. 

This was done by issuing several statements sent to the Ministry of Education to hold them accountability for what was happening and asking them to take their role on the stage - but there was no response. 

The ministry continued what it was doing. Official media (television & press) continued in distorting facts and charged what was done by Ministry of Education to the BTS.

In an objective view to the real situation of education in Bahrain, after all these events, substantial changes had occurred which prevented Shia from returning to their professional    positions and replaced them with pro-regime workers. 

As a result: A large number of shia teachers was dismissed, hundreds were sent to military or civilian courts for trials, arbitrary transfers of work sites to other sites, Schools for Shiites and the other for Sunnis were determined, programmed temporary dismissal (10 days for most teachers), salary deductions, volunteers (6000) were recruited, the majority of them do not have the appropriate qualifications to the duty of their job and a large number of teachers from Egypt and Saudi Arabia (2500) were imported. 

Those can be taken as real evidence of premeditated intention to evacuate the school from Shiite teachers as a punishment for their participation (or not) in the recent protests.

At the time that Bahrain schools work on improving schools performance and with all the large budgets allocated for that, observers can see the corresponding behavior of the Minister of Education in recruiting those without any qualifications (most of them did not finish high school) to teach in the schools. 

It is ironic that the ministry which has always claimed the lack of budget to meet the needs of schools (teachers) raises the number of teachers from 13 thousand to more than 21 thousand by a stroke of a pen, and this is what leads us to say that the budget is wasted and was used in the wrong direction. 

Those who act as disguised unemployed will drain the ministry budget. It can be seen that this is the result of the militarizing of the educational system in Bahrain which badly affected the teaching and learning process. The latest national exams result is proof of this bad impact (results drop drastically). Being away from school could not have this negative impact on the educational output in Bahrain  - the recruitment of under qualified persons as teachers did."

Sunday, 16 October 2011

RCSI: Apology or Hypocrisy?


The below is an email which I received last night and ought to give you further pause for thought regarding RCSI Bahrain.
Again - thank you for your continued interest and your actions of solidarity, 
Tara



Sent: 15 October 2011 10:49
Subject: RCSI: Apology or hypocrisy?

I am writing this letter to you to raise an issue of deep concern with regards to the recent statements of RCSI CEO, Prof Cathal Kelly.

It is a bit ironic that he is apologizing for the ‘unacceptable’ treatment of students in RCSI-Bahrain when he was involved in sacking a senior administrative staff. 

On March 30, 2011, Riyadh Dhaif, University’s Registrar, was forced into early retirement with the justification of “medical sickness”.
He was also forced to sign a legal document stating that he will not sue the university in court for their decision.
Prof Kelly was in Bahrain and met Riyadh personally on 30 March to give him the document to sign.

Dhaif was one of the founders of RCSI-Bahrain. Since 2004, he worked really hard side-by-side with Prof Kevin O’Malley (founder president 2004-08) and Michael Horgan (CEO RCSI 2004-2009)  in putting the building blocks of this institution in Bahrain.

He knew it all, from getting the proper building to paying all the bills to knowing every single student that joins.

He was the man working behind the shadows.

He was there when RCSI-Bahrain was only a small villa in Adliya up until it grew into a campus in Busaiteen.

He spent more time with the university than with his own kids. To Riyadh, RCSI was his bundle of joy… RCSI was like his baby!

Prior to RCSI, he used to work at the Ministry of Health (MOH) as the director of international health and public relations, prior to that he was the director of the minister’s office.

In 2004, RCSI requested his services through "secondment" from MOH, initially for 3 years then the plan was for him to retire and stay in RCSI.

Last year, RCSI asked him to retire from MOH because they wanted to keep him as he was of value to them… He was an important asset to the university. 
Riyadh is a father of four.

He is a healthy gentleman that lives a healthy active life.

He has been a vegetarian for more than eight years now and has never been diagnosed with a medical problem.

In February 2011, he developed a single episode of chest pain on which he was admitted to hospital for 1 day for observation.

He was then diagnosed with high blood pressure and early diabetes mellitus.

Riyadh is also the Uncle of Dr. Ghassan and Dr. Basim Dhaif, two out of twenty medics sentenced to jail due treating injured protesters during Bahrain’s uprising.

Despite that, Riyadh was never into politics and had never given an opinion with regards to recent events in Bahrain. 

Hence, it is hard to comprehend that his “retirement” was due to medical reasons as more than 50% of the population in Bahrain have Diabetes and High Blood Pressure.

These are chronic diseases and are not considered as disabilities. It looks more realistic that his sacking was due to his relationship with the Dhaif Brothers.

It’s a shame that after all his efforts to add to the prosperity of this institution, this is the way he gets rewarded.

There was no apology letter, no letter of appreciation, no farewell party and even no invitation to the conferring ceremony held on July 13th 2011. 

RCSI really looked into it to protect themselves when they made him sign the legal documents.

Nevertheless, it is simply unfair that this goes unnoticed especially when RCSI CEO is the one that technically fired him.

We don’t really fully believe that the decisions made in Bahrain’s Campus and the ‘Wholly inappropriate’ actions were taken without the College’s knowledge.

It’s quite hard to digest after Riyadh’s incident.


PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH ANY MEDIA OUTLET OR MEDICAL ORGANISATION THAT YOU HAVE DEALINGS WITH.
With thanks,

Adrian Croft: Reuters: UK tightens arms export controls after Arab Spring


Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague gestures during his keynote speech on the final day of the Conservative Party annual conference in Manchester, northern England October 5, 2011. REUTERS/Phil Noble
LONDON | Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:50pm BST
(Reuters) - Britain will tighten its arms export rules so it can swiftly halt sales of weapons, ammunition and tear gas to countries where there has been a sharp deterioration in security, the government said on Thursday.
The move is a response to criticism during the Arab Spring uprisings that Britain had recently approved the export of crowd control equipment that could have been used against demonstrators in countries such as Libya and Bahrain.
Prime Minister David Cameron faced censure for a trip in February to the Gulf on which he was joined by executives from defence companies and other businesses.
"We will introduce a new mechanism to allow ministers to respond more rapidly and decisively to the outbreak of conflict or to unpredictable events like the Arab Spring, by suspending licensing," Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament.
Britain said in February it was revoking more than 50 arms export licenses -- including tear gas and ammunition licenses -- for Bahrain and Libya whose security forces were at that time cracking down on protests, killing and wounding demonstrators.
Some arms export licenses for Egypt and Tunisia were also revoked.
A parliamentary committee said in April that both the 17-month-old coalition government and its Labour predecessor "misjudged the risk that arms approved for export to certain authoritarian countries in North Africa and the Middle East might be used for internal repression."
The committee's report highlighted a potential conflict of interest between the coalition government's goal of boosting British manufactured exports, including weapon sales, and its commitment to uphold human rights.
Hague said in July that a review had concluded there was "no evidence of any misuse of controlled military goods exported from the United Kingdom" during the Arab Spring, but that more work was needed on how Britain's arms control system operated.
Hague said on Thursday the government planned to introduce a new system which would allow "immediate licensing suspension to countries experiencing a sharp deterioration in security or stability."
"Applications in the pipeline would be stopped and no further licenses issued, pending ministerial or departmental review," he said.
Respect for human rights was already one of the mandatory criteria for approving arms export licenses, he said.
However, under the proposed new system, the Foreign Office would provide more information on the human rights situation in a country and ministerial oversight of licence applications would be increased, Hague said.

Robert Naiman: Huffington Post: "Convenient" Base Is Unexamined Excuse for U.S. Silence on Bahrain Crackdown


Pressure is building on the Obama administration to delay a proposed arms sale to Bahrain, which brutally suppressed its pro-democracy movement and continues to squash dissent, the Washington Post reports. The Pentagon wants to sell $53 million worth of armored Humvees and anti-tank missiles to Bahrain, a plan slammed by human rights groups, who want the U.S. to end its silence on the crackdown in Bahrain.
This week, five Senators -- Sens. Casey, Durbin, Cardin, Menendez, and Wyden -- weighed in against the arms sale in a letter to Secretary of State Clinton

"Completing an arms sale to Bahrain under the current circumstances would weaken U.S. credibility at a critical time of democratic transition in the Middle East," the senators wrote. "We urge you to send a strong signal that the United States does not condone the repression of peaceful demonstrators by delaying the possible arms sale until the Bahraini government releases its political prisoners, addresses the independent commission's recommendations, and enters into meaningful dialogue with Bahraini civil society and opposition groups."
In noting that the U.S. has been quiet on the crackdown in Bahrain, press reports usually mention the fact that the U.S. has a naval base there. In one sense, this is obviously a good thing: it's a key piece of information, clearly, about possible U.S. motivations for silence. If this fact weren't reported at all, one would have cause for legitimate complaint. But the way this fact is often cited gives the impression that it's a foregone conclusion that the Administration can't speak up about human rights in Bahrain because of the naval base.
Doesn't this assumption deserve some interrogation? If we say boo, do we lose the base automatically? And even if we did lose the base, would that be so awful? And if losing the base were a big concern, might not it be short-sighted in the long run to tie ourselves so closely to the regime? If the Shia majority victimized by the regime perceive that the base is the reason for our silence, doesn't this make it more likely that when democracy comes to Bahrain, a democratically-elected government will kick out the base? If the base were really so crucial, wouldn't we consider that? Is the presence of the base a "get out of jail free card" for justifying current policy?
Shouldn't these questions be considered before automatically assuming that "U.S. interests" demand our silence on the crackdown?
For example, in the same Washington Post report, we find:
Actually ensuring that the kingdom lives up to its promises [of reform], however, is complicated by a host or regional considerations.
The kingdom, in addition to serving as a home base for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, is a bulwark against Iranian power in the region.
Two points are raised here: 1) the base and 2) "a bulwark against Iranian power." Let's consider them in turn.
Is the base necessary to the U.S.? A February 17 report in the New York Times called the base "mainly a matter of convenience." The Times reported that the U.S. naval base in Bahrain was "mainly a matter of convenience rather than necessity to the United States Navy," noting that the Navy "has only 2,300 personnel there working in the comfort of an isolated compound, and making relatively little use of local port facilities for its major warships, which stay mainly at sea and at other anchorages."
Isn't that report striking, given that the opposite -- that the base is key to the U.S. -- is generally assumed? Was the February 17 New York Times report wrong? Shouldn't someone have to produce an argument that it was, before the claim that the base is key to the U.S. can be assumed? Isn't it noteworthy that the assertion that the base was mainly a convenience disappeared from theNew York Times after the crackdown, when U.S. policy, previously balanced between the desire to support democracy and the desire to maintain the status quo, came down squarely on the side of the maintaining the status quo? Doesn't that suggest that the presence of the base is not mainly areason for the U.S. policy of silence, but mostly an excuse for it?
What about "bulwark against Iranian power"? Clearly, the current government of Bahrain is currently part of the U.S.-led alliance against Iran, and under a democratic government in which the majority Shia population were enfranchised, maybe Bahrain would not be quite so enthusiastic a member of this alliance. But is the current Bahrain government a "bulwark" against Iran? The word implies something really important. The population of Bahrain is a little over a million people. The population of Iran is 78 million, Iraq 38 million, Egypt 82 million, Saudi Arabia 26 million. "Bulwark"?

Oman has very cordial relations with Iran; nonetheless it has great relations with its fellow Gulf Arab countries [and also with the U.S.] Have you noticed any huge concern that Oman is undermining U.S. policy? (Recently, Oman helped free the American hitchhikers who were jailed in Iran, using its influence to help achieve a U.S. objective.)
Isn't it possible, even likely, that if Bahrain's relations with Iran were a bit more like Oman's, we would get along just fine?
Before it had a democratic uprising, most Americans had never heard of Bahrain. Isn't it possible that tiny Bahrain's current status in the anti-Iran alliance is also mainly a matter of convenience rather than necessity? Shouldn't the question be examined rather than have its answer assumed? And again, if Bahrain's current status in the anti-Iran alliance is so crucial, might that not argue that the policy of silence could alienate the majority, making it more likely that the country will move further away from the U.S. under a democratic government?
And if maintaining the status quo in our relationship with Bahrain is so crucial to the anti-Iran alliance, how come the Washington Post editorial board is against the arms sale?
This month the Pentagon notified Congress of a plan to sell Bahrain armored Humvees and anti-tank missiles worth $53 million.
The message this sends is unmistakable: The regime's crackdown will not affect its cozy relationship with the United States. This is dangerous for the United States as well as for Bahrain, because the government's attempt to suppress legitimate demands for change from a majority of the population is ultimately doomed to failure. Bahrain's ruling family should be given more reason to worry about its standing in Washington. A congressional hold on the arms package would be a good way to start
Is there anyone with more impeccable anti-Iran credentials than the Washington Post editorial board, which has called for a U.S. policy of "regime change" in Iran and sharply criticized what is called the Administration's "squishiness" about "military options" for dealing with Iran's nuclear program?
Doesn't all this suggest that people who claim that "U.S. interests" dictate U.S. silence about the crackdown in Bahrain should have to justify their position?
Senator Wyden and Rep. Jim McGovern have introduced a resolution of disapproval against the arms sale to the government of Bahrain. You can ask your Representative and Senators to back that resolution here.
 
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