On 20 March 2017, Ebrahim Demestani delivered an oral intervention under Item 8 at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council on behalf of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, the Bahrain Institute for Rights in Democracy, and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. In his intervention, Demestani highlighted increased concern over the threats to medical personnel and to impartial and universal access to medical assistance in Bahrain. Please continue reading for the full text of his remarks or click here for a PDF of his intervention.
We are increasingly concerned with threats to medical personnel and their independent work in providing universal medical assistance, as addressed in the VDPA.
For example, in Bahrain, medics and doctors have been under threat since 2011. Dr. Ali al-Ekri just recently completed a five year arbitrary prison sentence for giving medical aid to injured and dying protestors after security forces suppressed Bahrain’s 2011 peaceful protest movement. Yet just this year, additional medics and doctors, such as Dr. Taha al-Durazi, have also been sentenced in relation to their work or their free expression.
Additionally, all of Bahrain’s public hospitals have been transferred from civilian to military administration, and the nation’s ambulance and paramedic services are now under the direct control of the Ministry of Interior. As a result, those injured during protests or as a result of excessive police force are afraid of seeking formal medical care for fear of arrest, investigation, torture, and prosecution.
In January, the 18-year-old Mustafa Hamdan was shot in the head with live ammunition at a peaceful sit-in and was refused admittance at a private hospital due to directives from the MoI. He is now brain-dead.
We call on Bahrain, and all States, to universally and inviolably respect the right to health and to guarantee the independence of healthcare workers.