Richard Sollom: The shocking thing is that Bahrain abuse is systematic

Share
Related Topics

In two decades of conducting human rights investigations in more than 20 countries, I have never seen such widespread and systematic violations of medical neutrality as I did in Bahrain.

Bahrain's ambulances, hospitals and medical clinics as well as its physicians, nurses, and medical staff are all being targeted. It's pervasive and ongoing. These attacks violate the principle of medical neutrality and are grave breaches of international law.

Doctors have a special role in society and have an ethical obligation to treat all people equally. In Bahrain, as they treat protesters and wounded civilians, they have borne witness to incredible human suffering. Treating these patients has provided physicians with unparalleled evidence of the atrocities committed by the authorities, the security forces and riot police. Their knowledge of these atrocities has also made them targets. At least 32 healthcare professionals have been abducted over the past two months and are being held incommunicado by security forces.

Salmaniya, a large 821-bed hospital housing Bahrain's leading medical specialists, is where the most serious injuries have been treated. Doctors there have seen evidence of gas inhalation, gunshot wounds and beatings.

While in Bahrain, we documented evidence of the hospital administration at Salmaniya calling doctors and nurses in for appointments, from which they were never seen again. Presumably they are taken to places of detention. One notable detention centre, Criminal Investigations Directorate at Adliya, is also an infamous centre of torture.

Unfortunately, the doctors do not have to be taken to detention centres to suffer violent attacks. We have documented the story of six doctors beaten by security forces in a Salmaniya staff room. When security forces are capable of such brutality in a hospital, one can only imagine what happens in a detention centre.

These attacks also put the families of doctors at risk. We interviewed the family of one surgeon who was ripped from his family, blindfolded, handcuffed and dragged from his home in the middle of the night. These systematic attacks have paralysed many health professionals in Bahrain with fear. Many are too terrified to go to work. Travelling to a hospital or clinic often means passing through road blocks where they must present identification and are vulnerable to attack. Arriving at the hospital or medical centre does not provide safety either, as police and security forces also visit medical centres.

We have documented this type of abuse in the past. In 2008, the entire healthcare system in Zimbabwe collapsed under Robert Mugabe, and doctors were targeted in a haphazard way. The shocking difference in Bahrain is that attacks appear to be systematic. It must stop.

Richard Sollom is deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
An Indian bookseller waits for customers at a roadside stall on World Book and Copyright Day in Mumbai  

Novel translation lets us know what is really happening in the world

Boyd Tonkin
 

Nature Studies: The decline and fall of the nightingale, poetry’s most famous bird

Michael McCarthy
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine