Bahrain medics' hunger strike

 

Sir, – Irish-trained surgeons Ali Al-Ekri and Bassin Dahif have entered their second week of hunger strike prison in Bahrain along with 11 other doctors, nurses and paramedics. Already seven have collapsed and have required intravenous fluids. One is suicidal and prescribed anti-psychotic medication, another has diabetes. They all refuse to take their medication.

Another detained surgeon has chronic compartment syndrome and is at risk of deep clots and embolism. All continue to suffer from the physical and psychological effects of prolonged detention and torture. One consultant ophthalmologist was released recently, having suffered a stroke in detention.

On June 29th, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa issued a royal decree, referring all protester cases to civilian courts. However international human rights organisations are shocked to learn that the trial of the 20 medics who are accused with felonies will continue in a military court.

Meanwhile, the brutal suppression of peaceful protests continues in Bahrain. The most recent victim is a 14-year-old boy, killed when struck by a tear gas canister three days ago.

The Bahraini regime continues to employ international lobbyists such as Jo Trippi and PR companies such as Qorvis in Washington and Bell Pottinger in London to conceal its recidivism. A pro- democracy Bahraini station, Lualua TV, based in London is actively jammed from Bahrain via a European satellite. All internal electronic communications in Bahrain are monitored by “spy gear” provided by western companies such as Nokia Siemens.

Over 1,400 protesters have been detained, 180 civilians have been sentenced in military courts, 32 people have been killed, over 60 journalists have been targeted or ejected and at least 22 opposition websites are censored in a country which would call itself civilised and peaceful.

So perhaps now is as good a time as any to request the RCSI to seek return of the honorary fellowship they awarded to King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa in 2006. – Yours, etc,

Prof DAMIAN Mc CORMACK

FRCS Orth Consultant,

Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon,

The Children’s University

Hospital, Temple Street,

Dublin 1.