A female Bahraini doctor says the Al Khalifa regime forces have ‘severely’ tortured her and several other doctors, who treated injured anti-regime protesters, in order to extract false confessions.
“We were forced to sign false confession blindly without reading them and these confessions were taken or extracted by severe torture and I mean by severe torture physical and psychological torture,” Dr. Fatima Haji said in a recent interview with Russia Today.
“We’d been denied sleep for days and had been standing for days. We were not given food or fluids and were hardly allowed to go the toilet,” Haji stated.
She further said the inmates were beaten by wooden sticks and hollow pipes. They were also electrocuted, sexually harassed and threatened with death and rape.
Haji is one of a group of doctors who were sentenced to five years in jail for their role in anti-regime protests. However, they were acquitted in 2012.
The confession they were forced to sign said that they were in possession of arms in the hospital where they worked and that they were trying to topple the Manama regime.
Bahrain’s highest court on Monday upheld jail terms issued against nine medics convicted for their role in last year’s pro-democracy uprising, state news agency BNA reported, a decision that could further fuel unrest in the Gulf Arab state.
The controversial case has drawn international criticism of the US-backed Gulf Arab kingdom, which has been in turmoil since the protests erupted in February last year.
BNA quoted Attorney General Abdul-Rahman al-Sayed as saying that Bahrain’s Court of Cassation rejected all appeals presented by the defendants and confirmed the previous rulings of prison terms ranging between one month to five years.
In June, the appeals court sentenced Ali al-Ekry, former senior surgeon at the Salmaniya hospital in Manama, to five years in jail.
Al-Ekri was found guilty of “possession and concealment of white weaponry (non-firearms) to serve a terrorist purpose, and for illegal assembly,” the statement said.
“We did not get a fair trial…We think we are a card being used by the regime to negotiate with the opposition,” he told Reuters by telephone from Manama.
Ibrahim Damastani, who received a three-year jail term, was found guilty of “possession of a white weapon and illegal assembly.”
The remaining seven medics, who were convicted of lesser crimes, including illegal assembly and inciting hatred, were given sentences of between one month and one year.
This was the final verdict and no other appeals will be heard. All nine medics have been free on bail since September last year.
The medics were first charged and convicted by a quasi military court specially formed in the aftermath of the government’s brutal crackdown of the anti-government protests in March 2011.
Many initially received much harsher sentences of up to 15 years.
Only the two medics who remain at large, Ali Hassan al-Sadadi and Qassim Imran, still face 15-year prison terms since neither appealed the original verdicts. They are believed to be in hiding or to have left the country.
The doctors were released last year after an outcry over allegations of torture during detention.
Mohammed al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, said Monday’s verdict was final with no recourse for further appeal but there might be still a chance for a pardon by the king.
The medics’ case highlights the schism in Bahraini society over the protest movement and political reform.
The doctors and nurses say they were victimized for treating protesters and helping bring world attention to deaths caused by security forces.
Washington and rights groups have criticized the June ruling, with Amnesty International saying it was a “dark day for justice.”
The verdicts follow an earlier trial at a military court in September, 2011 which sentenced 20 medics to prison terms of between five and 15 years on charges including theft of medical equipment, occupying a hospital and incitement to topple the state.
The ruling Al Khalifa family used martial law and help of Saudi-led Gulf troops, to put down last year’s uprising. Thousands were arrested and military trials were instituted during the martial law period.
Washington has called on its ally to talk to the opposition, but unrest continues. Protesters and police clash almost daily.
Seventeen-year-old Ali Hussein Nemat was killed during clashes with police on Friday.
At least 80 people have been killed and thousands detained since the uprising began, according to media sources and human rights organizations.
(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)
The Bahraini Freedom Movement issued a statement Friday in which it described the Russian demand in the Security Council as an “unprecedented development.”
“Russia has asked the UN Security Council to debate the case of Bahrain where a popular revolution has been taking place for the past 18 months. This reflects the new direction of Russian policies in the Middle East following two decades of downward opportunities following the fragmentation of the former Soviet Union. Earlier, the Chinese representative at UNSC had said that its double standards in dealing with the Arab Spring revolutions had damaged its impartiality,” the statement read.
“The internationalization of the Bahraini revolution will be a blow to the Al-khalifa and Al-Saud policies as they attempt to destroy the Bahraini revolution with shear state terrorism. The American and British military and security support of the despotic rulers of Bahrain is causing unease on the international scene especially after the recent flare up of the Syrian situation,” it added.
Turning to the Bahraini revolution, the Movement said that “among the recent deaths by chemical gases is a fetus in his mother’s womb. Atiyya Hassan Jassim Al Nakal of Sitra has confirmed that his wife had suffered a miscarriage following the inhalation by the mother of excessive amounts of chemical gases and tear gas. His family has been devastated. More than fifty citizens have lost their lives as a result of excessive use of chemical gases by the Al-khalifa and Al-Saud forces occupying the country.”
“Another detained human rights activist is Zainab Al Khawja who was arrested last week for protesting at a roundabout. Amnesty International has called for her immediate release. It said: In the past nine months Zainab Al-Khawaja has been arrested and released several times. She has been put on trial several times for “illegal gathering” and “insulting officials.” She is still facing three more trials,” it stated.
“Meanwhile the revolution has gained momentum in recent weeks following intensification by the regime of its barbaric attacks on civilian areas. About thirty demonstrations every day and night in almost all neighborhoods are taking place. The routine has become standard. The youth would gather at a place and would march followed by women procession. Few minutes later they would be attacked by overwhelming forces using chemical gases and tear gas canisters. A fracas would often ensue, and confrontations would continue for hours. While the troops would fire large amounts of lethal gases, shotguns and rubber bullets the youth would try to stop the attackers using petrol bottles to defend their own homes,” it noted.
“It is now clear that no settlement is possible between the people and the ruling family and the only way out is for the Al-khalifa to go,” the statement concluded.
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