Bahrain: Medics who aided pro-democracy protesters face jail time


Doctors and nurses gather outside Salmaniya medical complex before marching towards Pearl Square in the Bahraini capital Manama on February 20, 2011 to demand the resignation of Education Minister Majed bin Ali al-Nuaimi and Health Minister Faisal al-Hamr in anti-government protests in the tiny Gulf kingdom.


Joseph Eid

Nine Bahraini medics were sentenced to jail on Monday for their part in pro-democracy protests that took place last year, Bahrain’s state news agency reported.

Reuters quoted Attorney General Abdul-Rahman al-Sayed saying Bahrain's Court of Cassation had denied defendants’ appeals.

"We did not get a fair trial," Dr. Al-Ekry, a surgeon who was charged with "inciting hatred and calling for the overthrow of Bahrain's rulers," told Reuters.

The 9 medics are, according to the Agence France Presse, part of a group of 20 doctors and nurses who were arrested by government forces at the Salmaniya medical complex, located in the state's capital city of Manama.

More from GlobalPost: In Bahrain, life in prison just for protesting

The medical staff was then tried and convicted in a military court. Al Jazeera reports a civilian court upheld these convictions.

Bahraini political activist Saeed Shehabi told the Russian Times, “To make them innocent would be to go against the reputation of the regime. I think it’s a political decision. They are saying, ‘we are here, we determine the sentences, and no one can change our mind whether it’s the international human rights organizations or political activists.’”

The New York Times points out the medics' conviction is seen as another chapter in the "widening sectarian rift ... between the Sunni ruling monarchy and Bahrain’s Shiite majority." All the medics are Shiite. 

According to Russian Times, the medics were accused of "treating antigovernment activists wounded by security forces and reporting those injuries to foreign media," and "occupying a hospital and inciting hatred towards the country’s ruling royal family."

Dr. Al-Ekry, who was sentenced to five years, spoke to Al Jazeera: