October 1, 2011

Dr. Nada Dhaif, and Dr. Fatima Hajji discuss the sentences and give their shocked reactions to them.

These doctors, and eighteen more, were sentenced simply for providing aid to injured protesters, the rest of the charges fictitious.

It should also be noted that while the U.S. State Department is "deeply disturbed" by these sentences, Bahrain is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, and thus a key ally in the region. The U.S. has provided the tiny island nation of Bahrain nearly $100 million in aid since Barack Obama became president. Iran's PressTV is only too happy to provide (accurate) figures on the contradiction:

The Pentagon has cut deals with Bahrain in arms trade, sending dozens of American tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopter gunships, thousands of .38 caliber pistols and millions of rounds of ammunition, from .50 caliber rounds used in sniper rifles and machine guns to bullets for handguns, some of which were undoubtedly used against protesters.

In addition to all these gifts of weaponry, ammunition, and fighting vehicles, the Pentagon in coordination with the State Department oversaw Bahrain's purchase of more than $386 million in defense items and services from 2007 to 2009, the last three years on record.

From the CNN report:

(CNN) -- A group of 20 doctors who were detained during this year's protests in Bahrain have been convicted of attempting to overthrow the government and hit with lengthy prison sentences, authorities and a human rights group said Thursday.

Thirteen of the physicians were sentenced to 15 years in prison, two for 10 years and five for five years, said military prosecutor, Col. Yussef Rashid Flaifel.

The U.S. State Department, "deeply disturbed" by the sentences, said the Bahraini government should provide fair trials, access to attorneys and judicial transparency.

Deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said the United States was "concerned about trials of civilians, including medical personnel, in military courts and the fairness of those proceedings."

Charges against the doctors included possession of unlicensed weapons, inciting the overthrow of the government, provoking sectarian hatred and forceful occupation of a public building, officials said. Prosecutors have alleged that, at the height of the protests earlier this year, the accused medical personnel refused to help patients at Salmaniya Medical Complex, the main hospital in the capital city, Manama.

Amnesty International called the charges "ludicrous" in their press release.

“These are simply ludicrous charges against civilian professionals who were working to save lives amid very trying circumstances,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. “It appears that the real reason for targeting these health workers was the fact that they denounced the government crackdown on protesters in interviews to international media.”

“We’ve repeatedly said that Bahraini authorities should never have used military courts to prosecute ordinary civilians, including doctors, teachers and human rights activists.

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