Defending medics in Bahrain

 

Sir, – On June 14th, the Bahraini regime will issue verdicts on Irish- trained surgeons and will possibly return some or all of them to prison. They have already endured months of torture following their detention last March. Their calls for help fell on deaf ears for months.

The tardy responses of the RCSI and RCPI in this paper (Treatment of medics in Bahrain, Sat 25th June 2011) reflected their irritation with those of us who tried to highlight the plight of our colleagues in Bahrain. However our “ill-informed commentary” has proven to be correct. The subsequent revelations that RCSI interrogated their students and asked some to sign a pledge of allegiance to the regime stunned the international medical community. The abduction and torture and sexual molestation of Dr Fatima Haji, a senior lecturer in RCSI was not alluded to by the college, so intent on “protecting staff and students”. Nor was firing of a senior administrator of RCSI in Manama following the abduction of his two nephews, Bassim Dhaif and Gassan Dhaif, both of them are fellows of RCSI and both of whom face imprisonment on Thursday.

RCSI remains a business partner of the regime in Bahrain. However, Bahrain has signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN general Assembly in 1998.

Article 5(b) specifically states that “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (b) To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the state shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present declaration”.

The Bahraini regime and those who collaborate with it are clearly on the wrong side of history. The Bahraini regime and its collaborators continue to insist that all is well in Bahrain.

The world knows otherwise. 760 prisoners on conscience in Bahrain know otherwise. The 50 families of those killed by security forces to date in Bahrain know otherwise. The detained teachers, nurses, doctors, ambulance men, lawyers, students and human rights activists know otherwise. Those who have fled in fear or who live in exile and those who live there under the constant fear of attack and reprisal and discrimination know otherwise.

We will march today in Dublin in solidarity with our friends and colleagues in Bahrain. We invite the RCSI and RCPI and IMO and all medical and paramedical groups to join us. We ask that teachers and lawyers and students join us. We ask that ordinary citizens who enjoy freedom of speech and assembly join us.

We ask the Bahraini regime to respect the International Declaration on Human Rights to which it is a signatory and to consider carefully the implications of its decision next Thursday. – Yours, etc,

Prof DAMIAN MC CORMACK,

FRCSI,

Eccles Street,

Dublin 1.