In early 2011, thousands of protesters in the small island kingdom of Bahrain took to the streets calling for government reform. The Bahraini government’s response was brutal and systematic: shoot civilian protesters, or detain and torture them – and erase all evidence.
On the frontline, treating hundreds of these wounded civilians, doctors had first-hand knowledge of government atrocities. As a result of their efforts to provide unbiased care for wounded protestors, the government initiated systematic and targeted attacks against medical personnel.
PHR went to Bahrain to investigate and document these attacks, which were a clear violation of the principle of medical neutrality and of international law. Our report “Do No Harm” documented the beating, abuse, and threatening of physicians; the obstruction of medical care through the militarization of hospitals and clinics; security forces stealing ambulances and posing as medics; and the abduction and detention of medical personnel. Nearly 100 health professionals were wrongfully imprisoned by the Bahraini government during the political unrest; Dr. Ali Al-Ekri, the last imprisoned medical worker, was finally released in March 2017.
Since the release of the report, PHR has joined other human rights organizations in calling for the release of human rights activists wrongfully imprisoned in Bahrain.