Well here’s the news! A Bahraini military court has sentenced 15 medical professionals to 15 years in prison. The court session lasted seven minutes and the defendants weren’t present. “Bahraini authorities have accused the group of using Manama’s Salamaniya Medical Complex, where they worked, as a “control centre” for pro-reform protests at nearby GCC Roundabout (formerly Pearl Roundabout), in February and March. The defendants deny all the charges, which include incitement to hatred of the regime, occupying the hospital by force, stealing medicines and stockpiling arms at the hospital.” (Source) If you would like to read the story of one of these doctors, have a look at the Guardian article in which Nada Daif describes how she was arrested and tortured – and the impact this has had on her family. These medical personel include the countries’ specialists so not only do the individuals and the families suffer, but the people of the country too. It makes no sense.
Oh yes, and this isn’t all. “ A special court in Bahrain has upheld life sentences for eight Shi’ite opposition activists convicted of plotting to overthrow the minority Sunni-led government during anti-government protests earlier this year. The state-run Bahrain News Agency said the court confirmed the sentences Wednesday, along with those of 13 other activists, who received prison sentences ranging from two years to 15 years on similar charges of sedition.” (Source) In addition to all these cases, a man has been given the death sentence having been found guilty of running over a policeman during demonstrations.
Jalila al-Salman is a teacher who has been given a three year prison sentence. And her crime is? She went once with other teachers to protest at the Pearl Roundabout. She has already spent time in prison during which time she was beaten and threatened with rape. Here is the story of her arrest and time in prison.
Now remember, Bahrain is still in the process of having a Commission of Inquiry investigate “the incidents that occurred in the Kingdom during the period of unrest in February and March 2011 and the consequences of these events”. (I found that quote on Wikipedia – this commission even has a Wikipedia page!) The game is that you investigate and forgive on the one hand, and punish, harass and torture on the other. The government tries to fool the world into believing that the country is back to normal and giving them enough positive news to blind them to the reality that nothing has changed.
The good news is that there are still many people and newspapers in the world who continue to be concerned about these atrocities in Bahrain. In particular, the editorial in yesterday’s Washington Post which talks of “Bahrain’s unjustified and self-defeating repression” says it all.