Recent news reports put out by international agencies have carried claims and allegations made by Shia female doctors of Bahrain that they were tortured, humiliated, insulted and abused while being interrogated in detention. They had been arrested on charges of indulging in unethical medical practices in order to draw international media attention while working at Bahrain’s main hospital.
These reports are not only baseless but scurrilous as well – a form of passive protest carried out in the sordid belief that if you cannot go out into the street to denigrate a government, do so by making wild statements about torture and mistreatment in the international media and human rights organizations. It doesn’t matter if no party is actually able to verify any of the claims. They will lap them up all the same.
Interestingly, while claims of torture and humiliation allegedly on trumped-up charges were made by unnamed Shia women picked up from unnamed areas, a Shia woman doctor, Jinan Harith Darwish, a Bahrain graduate of the Royal college of Surgeons in Ireland who is still working at the same hospital where the arrested women doctors worked, has come forward to slam rights groups which have criticized the authorities.
In a letter to the editor, published in ‘Irish Medical Times’, quoted in the local Press, she expressed alarm at all those” false allegations being published as concrete facts”, adding that the Bahraini doctors who treated injured civilians without politicising the situation were not targeted.
Information Affairs Authority President Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa said last month that 46 medical employees were being held in custody of which 29 were facing criminal charges and 17 others were accused of committing misdemeanours.
“The doctors detained are those who abused their power of authority at the hospital (Salmaniya Medical Ccomplex) and policed it, only allowing access to people belonging to one sect,” Dr Jinan Darwish wrote.
“The doctors you feel so sorry for claims made utilising patients attending hospital with trauma unrelated to the chaos they themselves created and projecting it to the world as unarmed civilians being attacked by the government forces on biased news networks, which included the BBC.” There are even reports that some of the arrested doctors had expanded the minor wounds of those injured and even spilled stored blood on them to make their condition appear alarming for the benefit of the mediamen’s cameras. Dr Jinan Darwish also wondered why, when an American soldier dies in combat in Iraq, he is viewed as a hero; yet when a policeman on duty in Bahrain is run over by a juvenile terrorist one does not even acknowledge it.
As for the government action against the arrested doctors, a number of them have been allowed to go home on humanitarian grounds since they were unfit to be kept in detention centres and have instead been placed under house arrest. Indeed the authorities take serious action against any form of torture or maltreatment by security forces of those under detention or interrogation and the Interior Minister has given assurances on this score on more than one occasion to the media.
The detainees also have the right to file official complaints in case of any grievances on the score of their harsh treatment by the security forces or the police. In any case, all detainees have access to lawyers and through them they can bring to the notice of the court and authorities any instances of maltreatment.