Supporting medics in Bahrain
Sir, – However bad things are in the health service in Ireland at this time, at least Irish doctors and surgeons know they would not be imprisoned without trial, tortured and convicted as criminals for providing medical care to wounded protesters during a period of political unrest. This is what happened last year in the Kingdom of Bahrain to doctors and surgeons, some of whom studied, trained and worked in Ireland. One of those doctors stood with his children in Dame Street every St Patrick’s Day to watch the parade go by during the years he lived here.
On October 1st, the convictions of nine of them were upheld by Bahrain’s highest appeals court and they are now facing imprisonment and very likely, more torture while incarcerated (World News, October 2nd). Yet the Bahraini judicial system which confirmed these convictions was found to be flawed by the international commission set up to investigate human rights abuses in the wake of the Arab Spring in the Kingdom of Bahrain. It recommended that the judiciary and prosecutorial personnel themselves required training to ensure that their own activities contributed to the prevention and eradication of torture and mistreatment in the future (par.1255, Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report accessible at www.bici.org.bh).
All legal avenues have now been exhausted and the sentences can be commuted only by the King of Bahrain. Through your letters page, I appeal to all Irish people who uphold the rights of doctors to provide medical care for the wounded in times of crisis as guaranteed by the Geneva Convention, to write directly to the King of Bahrain, asking him to correct the injustice committed by his country’s legal system by commuting the prison sentences of the Bahraini doctors and other healthcare professionals. I also appeal to the Irish Medical Council, to the heads of all medical schools in Irish universities and to medical students in Ireland, to speak out loudly and clearly, for justice for the Bahraini doctors by writing directly to the king. There is no point in having hand-wringing discussions among themselves about the fate of their medical colleagues in a faraway country. – Yours, etc,