Medics in danger in Bahrain

 

Madam, – As your readers may be aware, a number of Irish-trained doctors practising in Bahrain have been recently imprisoned. Their sole “crime” was to follow the Hippocratic Oath and treat those injured in anti-government protests. At the time of writing, their fate is uncertain and their lives may be in danger.

I therefore read with disbelief the remarks attributed to the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Home News, May 16th) in which it refused to criticise the arrest of its graduates as it “does not comment on political matters or individual cases”.

This silence may relate to the fact that RCSI runs a medical school in Bahrain supported by the regime that has thrown our colleagues in jail. If this is indeed the case then, in my opinion, the college is guilty of moral cowardice and a shocking abandonment of the defence of medical ethics. Furthermore, by failing to condemn a blatant abuse of human rights and patient welfare, I believe this respected institution has damaged the reputation and honour of Irish medicine.

Unfortunately, the RCSI is not alone in its silence. Other, usually vocal, medical bodies, such as the Irish Medical Organisation, appear also to have lost the power of speech on this issue. This attitude is in marked contrast with the IMO conference of 2009, where a motion was passed condemning the state of Israel for its war against Gaza. At the same event in 2011, it appears  the Bahraini regime was deemed unworthy of any officially-recorded criticism.

In spite of this apparent failure of medical leadership, I believe there is yet time for an appropriate response. Our Government must protest at the imprisonment of these doctors at the highest level in Europe. Furthermore, we should immediately make it clear that they and their families will be offered full political asylum and citizenship of Ireland upon their release. That is the very least we owe these brave colleagues. Action must be taken immediately as soon it may be too late. – Yours, etc,

Dr RUAIRI HANLEY,

Beaufort Place,

Navan, Co Meath.