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June 25, 2016

Breaking news: Plight of Irish-trained doctors in Bahrain being debated

An injured Bahraini protestor is treated in a hospital in Manama

By Aoife Connors

The detention of Irish-trained doctors in Bahrain will be debated today, July 7, at the European Parliament following a request by Irish MEP Sean Kelly.

The Ireland South MEP tabled a motion for resolution at the Parliament as there are increasing concerns about Irish-trained doctors awaiting a military trial in Bahrain.

“Bahraini security forces arrested 47 medical personnel since authorities declared a State of National Safety was declared on March 15 last. Some of these doctors were trained in Ireland at the Royal College of Surgeons, including Dr Ghassan Dhaif, Dr Basim Dhaif and Dr Ali al-Ekri. They are to face a military trial and stand accused of inciting violence during the recent uprising and of mistreating patients,” Kelly said in Strasbourg today.

“However, it is my understanding that in reality, these doctors were simply doing their job and providing medical care to those in need. By tending to those injured in the protests regardless of their political beliefs, the doctors are being considered ‘traitors’ by the Bahraini regime,” he added.

“These medical professionals have denied any wrong-doing and protested their innocence but I fear that they will not be given a fair hearing under this so-called ‘military trial’ process. Worryingly, at least one doctor who lived in Ireland for a time has sent word of his torture at the hands of prison guards trying to extract confessions.”

“This is a human rights atrocity but unfortunately, it is not an isolated case, with ongoing disturbances across the Arab World where citizens are being denied their democratic rights. It is somewhat more sinister, however, when medics people trying to care for the sick are being tortured and imprisoned for their efforts. Doctors should not live in fear of assault or detention,” Kelly said.

The Ireland South MEP requested the debate on behalf of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, of which Fine Gael is a member. “Evil is gripping certain parts of our world in a horrifying way; innocent people are being attacked in Bahrain, Syria, Libya and elsewhere. These acts of brutality must be condemned and stopped,”

Front Line, the international foundation for the protection of human rights defenders founded in Dublin, is seeking signatories to an open letter to King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa highlighting the organisations concern regarding the arrest and trial of nurses and doctors in Bahrain. The letter is available here.