Activists who tended Bahraini protesters released on bail


THE RELEASE on bail of two Bahraini activists detained following pro-democracy protests has been welcomed by Dublin-based human rights organisation Front Line.

Dr Rula Al Saffar, head of the Bahrain Nursing Society, and Jalila al Salman, deputy head of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association, were detained along with 45 others after they treated injured protesters earlier this year.

“We welcome that they have been released on bail. But they are still facing charges and it is of particular concern to us that these charges will be heard before a military court,” spokesman Jim Loughran said yesterday.

Mr Loughran said assurances had been given in June that all cases would be heard by a civilian court, but now it seems this only applies to some of the medics. In a military court it is not possible for defendants to call witnesses or question prosecution witnesses.

“We have received reliable reports from other people detained with [Dr Al Saffar and Ms al Salman] that they were particularly targeted for torture due to their standing within their organisations,” he said. It appears the pair are to be tried on Sunday under “a series of charges which effectively amount to treason”, Mr Loughran said, adding the charges typically carry sentences of between 15 years to life.

Front Line believes all charges against health professionals who have been targeted because of their work for human rights should be dropped, he said.

Senator Averil Power (FF) travelled to Bahrain with Front Line to protest against the imprisonment of the medics including Dr Ali Al Ekr, Dr Basim Dhaif and Dr Ghassan Dhaif, who trained at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. “I welcome the news that Dr Rula Al Saffar and Jalila al Salman have now been released. However, 10 medics remain in custody and another has been transferred to hospital after suffering a ruptured brain aneurism. Our delegation will continue to campaign for their release,” she said.