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Harrowing testimony of torture of medical staff in Bahrain

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, May 10, IRNA -- A doctor arrested in the crackdown on medical staff in Bahrain has revealed the lengths to which the regime's security forces are prepared to go to quash pro-democracy protests, according to a British daily Tuesday.

The Independent said it had obtained interviews from inside Bahrain that tell of “ransacked hospitals and of terrified medical staff beaten, interrogated and forced into signing false confessions.” It reported many have been detained and their fate was unknown.

“The campaign of intimidation against the doctors and nurses who bore witness to the bloody crackdown began two months ago at Salmaniya Medical Complex, the main hospital in the capital Manama. It has since been extended to at least nine health centres which have been systematically attacked by the security forces,” it said.

“Each incident follows the same pattern: police jeeps surround the centre, before armed men and women in masks close the gates and line all those caught inside up against the wall.”

Relatives of those detained said some were forced to confess to acts they had not committed, with those confessions filmed by the security forces for subsequent broadcast.

One consultant and family physician, who asked to remain anonymous fearing the safety of her children, described in an email how she had been beaten, abused and humiliated and left with a black eye and bruises on her back during a seven-hour detention at the Central Province Police centre.

Rights activists believe medical officials have been targeted because they bore witness to the terrible injuries sustained by the protesters they treated, and could therefore give evidence against the government.

Last week, 47 doctors and nurses were charged with 'promoting efforts to bring down the government' and 'harming the public by spreading false news'. Their trials are expected to begin shortly.

Vivienne Nathanson, head of ethics at the British Medical Association, described the attacks on medical staff in Bahrain as unprecedented, saying she did not think it had been on such a scale before.

“It is very worrying because doctors and health workers have an ethical duty to treat people regardless of what they have been doing and the state has an obligation to protect them. All the doctors have been doing is saying these people need care and they have got to give care. They are not saying the protesters are right,' Nathanson said.

'The UK Government should be doing everything it can to bring pressure on any government, whether Bahraini or not, to ensure healthcare can be provided in safety,' she said.

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