After the pro-democracy uprising started in Bahrain in 2011 as part of the Arab Spring, the government responded with a widespread, severe crackdown. Doctors in Bahrain, who had first-hand knowledge of government atrocities, quickly became a target after treating hundreds of protesting civilians. The Bahraini government systematically targeted medical personnel who treated, unbiasedly, wounded protestors. PHR went to Bahrain to investigate and document these attacks.
Our 2011 report Do No Harm, published following a PHR visit to Bahrain, presents forensic evidence that documents government attacks on physicians, medical staff, patients, and unarmed civilians with the use of bird shot, physical beatings, rubber bullets, tear gas, and unidentified chemical agents. Our 2012 report Under the Gun: Ongoing Assaults on Bahrain’s Health System shows the devastation on Bahrain’s health system that resulted from the Government of Bahrain’s continued assault on doctors, patients, and the health care system. Bahrain’s abuses in the spring of 2011 are the most extreme violations of medical neutrality in the past half century, and history will remember them as such.
PHR not only documented abuses against Bahraini doctors, but also began working on behalf of our medical colleagues in Bahrain in 2011. The data below tracked Bahraini physicians who were sentenced to prison starting in 2011. Following an international outcry, in-part led by PHR, draconian convictions of up to 15 years for baseless charges were in some cases reduced to months. While some doctors served their shorter sentences and were released, many continued to face difficulties in being reinstated to their jobs, reissuing their medical license and running their private practices. Hear directly from Bahraini medics and the systematic discrimination they faced in the country. Most of the doctors who were reinstated were demoted and stripped of supervising responsibilities. The main hospital in Bahrain continues to be under military control, with the Ministry of Interior continuing to exert pressure on all medical facilities, denying people treatment and arresting them from the hospitals. There has been no compensation or rehabilitation offered to the doctors who were subjected to torture, arbitrary detention and unfair trial.