14 Jun, 11 | by BMJ Group
When I went to the court room for a pre-trial hearing I was shocked by the state of the detained doctors. All of them looked the same. They were in filthy clothes, and some came to the trial in pyjamas. (During the trial, the judge said that they should be able to call their relatives for decent clothes, but this seemed designed only to humiliate them further.) Their heads were shaved, and they were sweaty and tired. Most of them had lost a lot of their weight. One of the witnesses told us that when the doctors were brought from the prison to the court, they were blindfolded and handcuffed. They let them stand in the sun for around 30 minutes before bringing them to the court (the temperature in Bahrain currently ranges from 38 to 41 degrees Celsius).
One of the doctors, who was released earlier (but went to trial), said that during his arrest, they took him and another two female medics to the CID (criminal investigation directorate). There she saw 10 – 12 doctors sitting on the floor, blindfolded, handcuffed, and with their heads shaved. They had all been bought for confession in front of Bahraini TV. During the confessions, the police and others interrupted the recording if the doctors said something they don’t want them to say. She said: “We have to say exactly what they want us to say and not the truth.”
These confessions have not yet been broadcast. What is done usually is that these confessions are put on TV after the trials as evidence for their crimes. It was done for the protesters who were accused of killing a police man. The TV company also broadcast confessions from two doctors admitting that they spoke to the international press and told the world lies about injured protesters in order to show the world that the Bahraini regime is brutal and inhumane, and to put pressure on the government.
At the end of the hearing we were allowed to speak to the detained doctors. One said that he was beaten with a wooden board, slapped on the face, and was subject to a lot of verbal humiliations. He was also forced to eat excrement.
From March until now, the media in Bahrain is accusing all the Shia people in Bahrain and showing trials on TV. Most of them were arrested after the media talked about them. Some of the doctors have been the target of the media from the beginning. They are not politicians, they are doctors who were doing their duty and witnessed the brutality of the Bahraini regime when the Pearl Roundabout was initially attacked and the unarmed peaceful protesters were killed. The doctors protested against the Ministry of Health because it stopped ambulances from reaching the site to bring the casualties to the hospital.
The Ministry of Health is treating all doctors who are not detained in a sectarian way. Any Shia doctor or medic who has an administrative position is being removed from their position and replaced by a Sunni one. For example, a consultant family physician, who was the head of a health centre, was suspended from her work because she protested against the removal of the previous health minister (who was removed by the king himself), and was eventually removed from her position as the head of the health centre. A Sunni doctor replaced her. This is happening in most of the health centres in Bahrain.
My children are being humiliated by their Sunni classmates at school. One day, a few students were planning to beat my elder daughter after school in the bathroom. They planned this through Twitter. Thankfully one of her friends warned her. Even the school cannot stop these humiliations to my children because the Sunni students and Sunni teachers are the leaders now.
I don’t feel there has been any difference before and after martial law was lifted. The accusations on TV, the sectarian language and actions, the dismissals and suspensions from work, interrogations etc. These are still going on. I still don’t feel secure at night, and I suspect that the security forces will attack the house, frighten my children, and arrest me.