Bahrain Doctors Tried For Treating Protesters
As Reported By CBS News and PBS
The U.N. condemned Bahrain’s brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters Friday. Human rights groups say that since March, 34 people have been killed and more than 1,400 arrested. And now, Bahrain has put doctors on trial — just for treating injured protesters. CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips spoke with one doctor who faces a long prison term.
The wave of the Arab Spring peoples’ revolutions that had rolled across Tunisia and Egypt, crashed when it hit the tiny Gulf kingdom of Bahrain. The government quashed the demonstrators. And the people who had failed in their challenge to the authorities are still paying the price.
Dr. Nadu Dhaif was one of many health workers who treated the injured in makeshift clinics and supported their cause. Now, as she explained in a Skype interview, a Bahraini court has handed down its judgement.
“I was sentenced for 15 years in prison,” she said. “It was a complete total shock.”
The World Medical Association has called the sentences handed down to 20 doctors “totally unacceptable.” The convictions were based on confessions — some broadcast on TV, and some, as in Dhaif’s case, extracted under duress. “I was given an abundance of papers to sign while I was blindfolded,” she said.
“You were given papers while you blindfolded and told to sign them?” asked Phillips. “Yes, yes.” “Why did you sign those papers if you couldn’t see what you were signing?”
“I was threatened,” said Dhaif. “I had to sign them. They would beat me, torture me if I don’t go ahead and sign those papers.”
Dhaif is out on bail now, but expects to be re-arrested — separated from her children again and sent to prison at any moment. Going public, she said, is her only hope.