Saturday, April 23, 2011

Medical Workers Reported Missing in Bahrain


The New York Times

April 22, 2011

Medical Workers Reported Missing in Bahrain


LONDON —More than 30 medical workers are missing in Bahrain, an American rights group said Friday, in the latest indication that the country’s health care system is being drawn into Bahrain’s confrontation with pro-democracy campaigners.

The group, Physicians for Human Rights, cited reports from Bahrain that “doctors are disappearing as part of a systematic attack on medical staff,” and that “many physicians are missing following interrogations by unknown security forces at Salmaniya Medical Complex” in Bahrain’s capital, Manama.

In a Web posting, the group published a list of more than 30 medical personnel, from ambulance drivers to consultants and surgeons, who it said had been held.

“Although families have tried to contact administration officials, the administration denies any knowledge of their whereabouts,” the posting said. “According to family members, the physicians are being held incommunicado in unknown locations.”

There was no immediate response to the allegation from authorities in Bahrain, which enlisted military help from more than 2,000 troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to put down a pro-democracy uprising last month, and sent army and security forces to crush dissent.

The government forces have expelled protesters from Pearl Square, a traffic circle that had taken on symbolic importance for demonstrators, who likened it to Cairo’s Tahrir Square in the days before President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was toppled in February. The government forces also moved on to the grounds of the Salmaniya hospital after it became a hub of opposition activities.

The confrontation drew on Bahrain’s tense divide between majority Shiites and the Sunni monarchy that rules them. Most of Bahrain’s doctors are Shiites and the opposition is predominantly, though not exclusively, Shiite.

This month, it was estimated that at least a dozen doctors and nurses had been arrested and held prisoner since March, and more paramedics and ambulance drivers disappeared. Ambulances were blocked from aiding wounded patients, according to health care workers and human rights advocates.

“You have an assault on the health care system and the people who practice in it,” said Dan Williams, a senior researcher for the New York-based group Human Rights Watch, said this month. “Hospitals are supposed to be used for health care and not as arbitrary detention centers.”

At a news conference this month, the acting health minister, Fatima al-Balooshi, accused scores of doctors and health care workers at Salmaniya and elsewhere of joining “a conspiracy against Bahrain from the outside” — usually a code for Iran — to destabilize the government.

Richard Sollom, the deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights, denounced the apparent assault on medical personnel in the Web posting, writing: “Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals have an ethical duty to prevent and limit suffering of patients in their care and a duty to practice medicine in a neutral way without fear or favor.”

© 2011 The New York Times Company

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


No comments: