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Startseite Urgent Actions 2011 03 Eight activists detained Further arrests of activists and doctors
FI 079/11-1
Abgeschlossen am 11. April 2011

Further arrests of activists and doctors

AI-Index: MDE 11/015/2011

A crackdown on Shi’a opposition activists and doctors continues in Bahrain, with six more people detained in the past few days. Amnesty International believes that they have been detained solely for their criticism of and involvement in the protests and that therefore they are prisoners of conscience.

Salah ‘Abdullah al-khawaja, an opposition activist, was arrested on 21 March in his house. His family does not know where he is being held. He is said to have recently denounced attacks on protestors by Bahraini security forces in interviews on Arabic satellite TV channels and to have been actively involved in documenting human rights cases.

Dr ‘Ali al-‘Ekri, who works at al-Salmaniya hospital in Manama was detained on 17 March. His whereabouts and those of four other doctors from the same hospital - Dr. Bassem Dhaif, Dr. Ghassan Dhaif, Dr. Nada Dhaif, Dr. Mahmood Ashgar – are currently unknown and have not been disclosed by the Bahraini authorities. A sixth doctor who was arrested has since been released. Some of the detained doctors had given TV interviews in which they condemned the security forces both for attacking protestors and for obstructing the efforts of medical workers to assist the wounded, including by blocking access to the hospital to people in need of medical assistance and preventing medical staff from leaving the hospital.

A doctor from al-Salmaniya hospital told Amnesty International on 23 March that many doctors and nurses have been receiving anonymous sms messages in the last few days containing threats against their lives such as: ‘don’t go to the hospital. If you go to work you will die in a car accident’.

Additional Information

Bahrain has been gripped by popular protests inspired by those in Tunisia and Egypt since 14 February 2011, when there was a ‘Day of Rage’, held on the 10th anniversary of the endorsement of Bahrain’s National Action Charter, a programme of reforms. Protesters have largely been drawn from the majority Shi’a community who comprise some 70 per cent of the population but complain they are discriminated against and marginalized by the ruling Sunni minority. They have been calling for a new constitution, an elected government and greater freedoms and opportunities. Seven protestors were killed by security forces in February and hundreds injured, many by rubber bullets and riot police using shotguns. There was then a temporary hiatus after the government proposed a national dialogue involving opposition activists and political associations but this broke down earlier this week after Saudi Arabia sent in one thousand troops to buttress the government and 500 police arrived from the United Arab Emirates. Bahraini security forces, backed by these foreign forces, then launched a brutal crackdown which resulted in clashes between security forces and demonstrators and further deaths and injuries. The King declared a three month state of emergency and much of Bahrain has been placed under a virtual curfew. At least two government ministers, five members of the Shura Council, an advisor to the King, and many judges in the Shari’a (al-Ja’fariya) courts, who are all Bahraini Shi’a Muslims, have resigned in protest at the use of excessive force by the Bahraini

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