For Immediate Release
PHRtoday strongly condemned the actions taken by Bahraini border authorities whorefused PHR’s Deputy Director Richard Sollom entrance into Bahrain. Sollomholds a valid visa and has received frequent invitations by senior Bahrainicabinet members to visit the country.
Sollom was traveling to Bahrain to monitorthe appellate court trial of the 20 Bahraini medics with felony charges who provided care forprotestors during popular uprisings last year. Thirteen of the medics, whoinclude highly skilled specialists, have been sentenced by the National SafetyCourt (a hybrid military-civilian court) to 15 years in prison and the rest have been sentenced to 5 or 10 yearsin prison.
“In light of the international outcrytriggered by the brutal crackdown in Bahrain against protestors earlier lastyear, the severity of human rights violations chronicled in the BassiouniReport, and the continued violent attacks on demonstrators including theexcessive and inappropriate use of tear gas, PHR was surprised by the obviousreluctance of the Bahraini government to allow an independent human rightsinvestigator into the country,” said Hans Hogrefe, Chief Policy Officer atPhysicians for Human Rights.
“Blocking independent human rights observersfrom the trials of medical professionals casts greater doubt on the fairness ofthese proceedings,” said Sollom. “Bahraini officials continue to say that theyare willing to introduce human rights reforms, however, these recent eventsseverely undermine those claims and overshadow their commitment to ensuringthat the medics’ trial is fair and open.”
PHR calls on the US government to furtherdelay the pending military arms sale to Bahrain until the government of Bahrainmakes measurable and irreversible progress on human rights, establishes accountabilityfor past human rights violations, and guarantees full access to independenthuman rights observers.
PHR has continually condemned the governmentof Bahrain’s human rights violations against civilians during Bahrain’s popularuprising last year and has called for fair trials for all in civilian courts. Anestimated 350 protestors remain in detention and thousands have been unfairlyconvicted, abused, or fired from their jobs. In April, PHR released thereport Do No Harm, which detailed Bahrain’s systematicattacks on physicians, medical staff, and patients.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.