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Bahrain- Imprisoned medic deprived of adequate medical treatment for injuries sustained through torture, and authorities prosecute yet another human rights defender

2014-01-22

The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) express concerns about the ongoing deterioration of the status of human rights defenders in Bahrain

According to information received by the GCHR and BCHR, imprisoned medic Ebrahim Al-Demstani, deputy head of the Bahrain Nurses’ Society, has been on a hunger strike since 20 December 2013, in protest against his continued ill-treatment in prison, and deprivation from his right to receive adequate medical care.  Ebrahim Al- Demstani has been suffering from a chronic pain in his back, resulting from severe torture he was subjected to following to his first arrest on 2011.

Al-Demstani is currently serving a 3 year prison sentence in Jaw prison for his role in treating injured protesters in 2011. Following to his first arrest in 2011, and for five days, Al-Demastani was reportedly tortured, beaten, and forced to stand for almost 24 hours a day. He was suffering from a prolapsed disc before his arrest, and it is alleged that when the prison guards found out about it they started kicking him in the back until they caused a fracture in his coccyx bone. [1]

Since his second arrest on 2 Oct 2012 he has not been allowed to see a specialist doctor for his back pain, despite a court order obliging the authorities to give him access to a specialist, and many appeals submitted to the public prosecution, judge of verdict execution, and the ombudsman. On 2 January he was scheduled to see a specialist doctor at the military hospital. However, he was sent to the doctor’s assistant, who didn’t physically examine the patient, and who refused to take a new x-ray, though the available x-ray is 3 years old.

Additionally, Al-Demstani has not been allowed to receive appropriate winter clothes for the cold weather, and he has not been allowed to contact his lawyer for the past four months.[2]

The GCHR and BCHR believes that the imprisonment of medic Ebrahim AlDemstani, and depriving him of adequate medical care is directly related to  his role in defending human rights by providing medical care to injured protesters in 2011.

Furthermore, another human rights defender, Hussain Jawad, is facing reprisal for his human rights activities at local and international levels. Jawad, Chairman of the European-Bahraini organization for Human Rights (EBOHR), has spent 46 days in detention and was released on 9 January 2014 on bail of 100 Bahraini Dinars (US$265) while his charges are still standing and he might face a trial at any time. He was charged with, among other things, “inciting hatred against the regime”.  He is one of the defenders who was targeted by a defamation campaign in November 2013 by some GONGOs and local pro-government newspapers. As he went to the police station to file a complaint for defamation he was arrested, interrogated and detained for the above mentioned charges. [3]   

The GCHR and BCHR believes that  human rights defender Hussain Jawad, has been targeted and prosecuted solely due to the legitimate exercise of freedom of speech and peaceful activities in defense of human rights in Bahrain.

Therefore, the GCHR and the BCHR call on the US administration, the UK government, the EU and other  governments that have influence in Bahrain in  and  leading human rights organizations to:

  • Call for the immediate release of human rights activist and medic Ebrahim Al-Demstani as well as all other detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Bahrain;
  • Call for  adequate medical care to be provided to the medic Ebrahim Al-Demstani;
  • Drop all charges against human rights defender Hussain Jawad and stop the prosecution of human rights defenders;
  • Increase the pressure on the Government of Bahrain to stop the on-going daily human rights violations and the escalating attacks against human rights defenders;
  • Put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.