Following PHR's calls for the release of detained doctors and medical staff in Bahrain, nine doctors were reportedly freed. According to PHR's sources in the field, eight female doctors and one male doctor were released late yesterday evening. Doctors in Bahrain have been disappearing as part of a systematic attack on medical staff, as detailed in PHR's recent report, "Do No Harm: A Call for Bahrain to End Systematic Attacks on Doctors and Patients." Many of the medical professionals are being held incommunicado in unknown locations and on Tuesday the government of Bahrain charged 47 medical staff with trying to overthrow the regime.
Last month, PHR launched the campaign, Bahrain Free the Docs. The campaign has called for the release of detained medical staff and for the government of Bahrain to end violations of medical neutrality, a principle enshrined in international law and international humanitarian law which dictates noninterference with medical professionals in times of civil unrest and conflict. In the weeks following, PHR released a report, PHR members wrote letters to the Crown Prince of Bahrain calling for the release of the doctors and PHR joined with prominent medical associations to call for the Crown Prince of Bahrain to cease the attacks on medical staff. The campaign resulted in widespread media coverage including pieces on CNN and in The New York Times as well as the US State Department expressing concern about the violations of medical neutrality in Bahrain.While PHR celebrates with the families of those released yesterday, we continue to call on the government of Bahrain to free the remaining physicians and stop their attacks on health professionals.