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20 Doctors Sentenced In Bahrain

Introduction

Bahrain has often featured in headlines of major world news sources on allegations of human rights violations. The country has received a lot of criticism and pressure from other nations on the way it has handled several human rights issues. One of the biggest human rights violation cases was the sentencing of twenty doctors who treated protestors. Different articles from different news sources tackled the case from different perspectives. This essay provides a thorough analysis from five different sources on how the issue of the twenty doctors was reported. The key elements in each article are brought with clarity through personal interpretation. This essay provides the contrast in the five sources and also indicates the point of agreement in them. Normally, different media sources have unique ways of bringing out particular issues. Inconsistencies, omissions, and contradictions must feature when comparing reports from different media sources.

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

According to the BBC, the twenty medics were sentenced for fifteen years each after being convicted of incitement and intention to overthrow the ruling regime (British Broadcasting corporations, 2011). The protest came as a result of demands from the country’s Shia majority to have more rights in the kingdom ruled by the Sunni. The efforts by the domonstrators to conduct a peaceful demenstration were frustrated when the government deployed the security forces to tame them. Excessive force and arrests were made, including arrests of nurses and doctors who offered treatment to the protestors.

 The 5-15 year sentences against the nurses and doctors were based on charges that included promoting sectarian hatred, possession of unlicensed arms, and seizure of medical equipment. All these actions took place in the Salmaniya Medical Complex, which is situated in Manama. The security forces got into the complex forcefully after having cleared a group of demonstrators near the complex.

According to the report given by the information minister, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Mubarak, the doctors and nurses used the hospital complex as a “crime co-ordination center” (British Broadcasting corporations, 2011). The medics were thought to have supported the enemies of the government and therefore deserved to be arrested.

However, according to the observations made by human rights activists, the arrest of the medics was a great provocation against the rights of professionals in the line of their duty. Majority of the citizens expected the medics to be released on a bail. However, the action of arresting the medics who were in the line of their duty was another level of human right violation portrayed by the government of Bahrain. This clearly showed that the government was not ready to bargain, negotiate, or dialogue on the issues presented by the protestors. However, the government had opted to use force to silence the protestors by all means. The health professionals were also accused of willingly refusing to help injured security officials.

4 News

The media source claimed that the twenty doctors were jailed on the grounds of stockpiling weapons and also stealing medicine during the unrest period in Bahrain. This is somehow different from the allegations that were provided by BBC sources. However, the medics denied the charges that were made against their favor before the court. According to this media source, the hearing lasted for only seven minutes. The British government went along to condemn the manner in which the hearing was conducted. Such brevity was quite disproportionate to the charges executed by the court. The accusation levied against the medics included forceful occupation of the hospital, spreading propaganda and lies, inciting sectional hatred among the people, withholding necessary treatment, and planning to overthrow the leadership (4 News, 2011).

 The medics arrested claimed that it was the plan by authorities to humiliate and punish them for offering medical support to the anti-government protestors. This source pays attention to detailed information that emerged in the case of 20 medics. 13 of the doctors were sentenced to a term of 15 years, including one of the senior physician Ali al Ekri. Two were sentenced for ten years, while the other ten were sentenced for five years. One of the human rights groups, called Amnesty international, dismissed this move as ludicrous charges on innocent professionals who were doing their best to save the lives of people (4 News, 2011). The source revealed that the move by the government to punish the health workers was due to their denouncement against brutal crackdown by the government on the international media. The doctors condemned the government use of the security forces to cause pain to innocent protestors. This move by the doctors stirred the government’s quick action against the medics who were forcefully evicted from their working environment.

Cable News Network (CNN)

According to this media source, the twenty doctors arrested in Bahrain were accused of attempting to overthrow the monarch government. The details of the sentences are provided as fifteen years for 13, ten years for 2, and five years for the other 5. The source expresses deep concern by the government of United States of American on how the courts of Bahrain conducted the case (Wire Staff, 2011). The charges against the medics as provided by the source included causing sectarian hatred, intentions to overthrow the government, occupation of public building forcefully, and possession of unlicensed weapons (Wire Staff , 2011).

According to the report given by the spokesman of the Bahrain government, Salmaniya Hospital had been used for a period of three weeks to coordinate protests and enforce a plan to overthrow the government. At some point, the doctors had been released on bail after a hunger strike that compelled their release. This source provides a clear concern by international bodies on the human rights violation in Bahrain. In most case, it provides the view and stand of the USA on the human right issues surrounding Bahrain.

Gulf Daily News

Gulf Daily News is a local news paper in Bahrain. It provided a more detailed elaboration of what transpired in the case of 20 medics arrested during anti-government protests. The source reveals that the medics were subjected to criminal charges after abandoning the normal duties and hijacking medical facilities. The source claims that some doctors, consultants, and specialists were involved in covering the crime that was taking place at the Medical Complex in Salmaniya.

The article reveals that there were 23 doctors and 23 nurses who were being investigated before they were transferred to the court. The medical complex was used as a base for plotting to cause tension and raise conflict in order to overthrow the ruling government (Gulf Daily News, 2011). There are claims that the doctors used medical facilities like ambulances to transport protestors and dangerous weapons. The medical personnel were blamed for having employed heavy security in the entrance to conceal plans that were taking place in the complex. Out of the whole saga, 30 health workers were expected to appear before the department of public prosecution to face different charges that were being investigated by a committee from the Ministry of Health (Gulf Daily News, 2011).

These sources offer deeper details that are not offered in all other sources. However, the details tend to color the evil done by the doctors and avoid exposing the evil caused by the government.

Conclusion

The four different media sources – CNN, BBC, 4 News, and Gulf Daily News – share some similarity in their reporting. The number of doctors sentenced in the case does not vary. However, the charges levied against them seem to differ slightly in the reports. The local source brings out a different angle in the case that led to sentencing of the 20 doctors. However, it tends to lay more weight on the doctors’ mistakes rather that human rights violation. International sources like BBC, CNN, and 4 News put clear emphasis on human right violations in Bahrain. These three sources clearly paint the government of Bahrain as the bad master and doctors as poor innocent professional beings intimidated in the line of their duty. It is, therefore, important to have a wide comparison of reports in different sources in order to  come out with a conclusive report on a certain issue.

References

“Health staff facing charges” (30 April. 2011). Gulf Daily News Retrieved on 22 Jan. 2015 from < http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=305010>

Wire Staff (29 September. 2011). “20 doctors sentenced in Bahrain over recent unrest”.CNN Retrieved on 22 Jan. 2015 from <http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/29/world/meast/bahrain-unrest/index.html>

BBC (29 September. 2011). “Bahrain sentences medics who treated protesters”. BBC. Retrieved on 22 Jan. 2015 from <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-15105270>

4 News (29 Sep. 2011). “Bahrain doctors sentenced to 15 years”. 4 News. Retrieved on 22 Jan. 2015 from <http://www.channel4.com/news/bahrain-protester-sentenced-to-death>