Bahrain Dawn Raids Arrest Six Sentenced Hospital Protesters

A day after Bahrain’s highest court sentenced nine members of a medical group to prison terms for participating in pro-reform demonstrations, six of them were arrested in dawn raids across the island, As-Safir reported. Human rights groups continued to condemn the decision to incarcerate the doctors and nurses. 

al-monitor Doctors accused of taking part in anti-government protests that hit Bahrain last year, arrive for trial at the courthouse in Manama, Jan. 30, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Caren Firouz.

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bahraini hospital protesters

Oct 3, 2012

A day after the Bahraini Court of Cassation [the nation's highest court] upheld the ruling issued against nine members of a medical team — [with custodial sentences] ranging from one month to five years — Bahraini authorities yesterday [Oct. 2] arrested six of the team.

They are to serve the remainder of their prison terms after having spent varying periods in detention last year, when harsh rulings were issued against them by the paramilitary National Safety Court.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Bahrainis mourned activist Mohammed Mushaima, 24, who died in custody where he has held since last March on charges of demonstration and blocking streets.

As for the arrests, Dr. Farida al-Dallal, wife of Dr. Ali al-Akri, describes the arrest of her husband to As-Safir.

“[Security forces] came to our house at five in the morning. They rang the bell, and my older daughter opened it. They told her they had an arrest warrant against her father, so she woke both of us up. My husband asked for ten minutes to change his clothes, then they took him before even showing the warrant of arrest. He could not take any of his belongings. He could not even greet the rest of his sleeping sons.”

Besides Akri, a specialist in pediatric orthopedics, the police arrested Dr. Saeed al-Samahigi, an ophthalmology specialist; Dr. Ghassan Daif, a consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon; Dr. Mahmoud Asghar, a consultant pediatric surgeon; nurse Ibrahim Dimistani; and former secretary of the Bahrain Nursing Society and nurse Diaa Ibrahim.

Al-Wefaq Society — a major association affiliated with the Bahraini opposition — said: "The Bahraini regime turned its back to the international community and the United Nations, arresting six members of the medical staff from their homes after an unjust political ruling was issued by the courts, knowing that [the regime] meddles in the courts and affects its decisions.

“In fact, it ignored all international appeals and the positions of states and concerned human rights organizations, which stressed the need to dissociate medical staffs from indiscriminate official retaliation on the part of the regime against anyone who voices a different opinion,” the organization added.

At a news conference held by Bahrain Human Rights Monitor, lawyer Jalila al-Sayed said: "The arrest of the medical staff is full of flaws which make their trial void, starting with the illegal detention procedures, the confessions made under torture and all detention conditions, as well as the fact that the medical staff were subjected to military trials. Add to this that a number of medical personnel won an acquittal knowing that they were accused of the same charges. This does not comply with the fairness of the trial.”

Al-Wafeq stressed that the medical staff did not get a fair trial and that they were "subjected to a military trial and sentenced, and then transferred to the Civil Court of Appeal, thus losing the first level of judicial justice.”

Meanwhile, tens of thousands buried Muhammad Ali Mushaima, who died in custody, after suffering from sickle-cell anemia. Mushaima had complained, according to his family, of medical negligence which led to his death.

Ali Mushaima, his father, told As-Safir: "Mohammed suffers from the genetic sickle-cell disease and he was arrested for the first time in March of last year on charges of gathering and closing roads near the financial harbor. The concerned lawyer presented to the court evidence confirming that [Mohammed] was lying in the hospital at the time of the incident. However, he was sentenced to seven years in prison and was released later because of his poor health. They re-arrested him when the Court of Cassation upheld the ruling against him.”

Mushaima continued, "Mohammed spent the majority of his arrest period in the hospital due to his poor and deteriorating health. We were not ever allowed to visit him, and he barely saw his two-month-old son. The day before his death was the last time his mother and I were allowed to visit him, and only then for a very short period.”

Al-Wefaq Society said it considered Mushaima a martyr "due to the torture and deliberate medical negligence inside the prison," according to a statement it issued yesterday, noting that "he died for the sake of calling for freedom, democracy and dignity for the people of Bahrain.”

The mourners, who clashed with security personnel during the funeral march, demanded just punishment for all killers and violators of human rights in the regime, whatever their position.

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