Friday, September 30, 2011

Bahrain doctors await the call that will send them to prison

Global outcry as 20 medics prepare to go to jail for helping protesters during the Arab spring's forgotten uprising

Martin Chulov, Friday 30 September 2011

"Dr Ali al-Akri sits at home in Bahrain waiting for the jailer to call. When it happens, probably within days, the veteran physician will pack his bag, kiss his family goodbye and go to the prison that he will probably call home for the next 15 years.

"I'll do what I have to do," he says, "if that means that Bahrain will be a better place. And all of the doctors convicted with me will do the same."

The 20 Bahraini medics who were sentenced on Thursday to prison terms of between five and 15 years remain on bail in Manama, but all are sure that their fate has been sealed by the military court that convicted them of a range of subversive crimes, some of which the government claims amount to acts of terrorism.

The sentences have drawn widespread international condemnation and refocused attention on the uprising in the tiny Gulf state that faded away as the rest of the region boiled. When nobody was looking, Bahrain's revolution died.....

The doctors say they had no role in stopping ambulances, but admitted joining political rallies.

"It was the security forces who [stopped the ambulances] and that was proven during the trial," said al-Akri. "There was evidence from the dispatchers and statements from the security forces themeselves. "We were outraged when the ambulances were stopped and we led protests calling for the removal of the health minister. When he was sacked, we stopped."

"We witnessed the atrocities. And because we did not obey [the government] we are being punished."...."

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