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PHR Renews Call for Open and Fair Trials in Bahrain

Hunger striking detainees reported to be in poor health

For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)calls on the Kingdom of Bahrain to ensure thatcourt proceedings for detained medical professionals adhere to internationallegal standards and remain open to observers. PHR has also received new reportsof detainees in poor health and on hunger strike and calls for the Bahrain Independent Commissionof Inquiry (BICI) to immediately investigate their condition.

Medical professionals who were arrested for treatingprotesters face trial September 7 before a hybrid military court. The Kingdom of Bahrain reintroduced the military trialslast week, despite earlier promises to abolish them and try the medics incivilian courts.

“The government’s use of a military trial for these casesraises serious doubts about how the rights of civilians can be adequatelyprotected,” said PHR Deputy Director Richard Sollom. “PHR has heard from defendant’sfamilies that the medics began a hunger strike this week in protest of theirunlawful detention and trial in military courts. PHR is calling for BICI to investigatethe treatment of those in detention.”

Accordingto their families, the striking defendants are demanding:

  • Immediate release from detention
  • Fair trials in a civilian court with the presence of a human rights committee
  • New interrogations in the presence of the defendant’s lawyers and a human rights committee

Additionally, PHR has received word that many detainees are in poor health.One woman reports that her husband is suffering from severe depression andsuicidal thoughts, but is not taking his antidepressants during the hungerstrike. Others are reportedly at a high risk of suffering from deep vein thrombosis, uncontrolleddiabetes and other ailments.

“Ifthese claims are true, these detainees are in severe need of medical attentionand should immediately be seen by independent health professionals,” saidSollom.

In April, PHR released Do No Harm, a report which documented extensive human rights violations by the Bahraini government andcasts doubt on the legitimacy of the charges against the defendants.

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.

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