Rights Group Urges Bahrain to End Medical Personnel Arrests

Posted July 18th, 2011 at 5:05 am (UTC-5)
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A human rights group has called on Bahrain to end a “campaign of arrests” against medical personnel and attacks against patients who were injured during mass anti-government protests earlier this year.

New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a report Monday detailing what is says are attacks against health care workers, the siege of hospitals and health care centers, and the torture and prosecution of medics and wounded protesters.

The group called on the Bahraini government to hold those responsible for the attacks accountable, and to allow access to medical care for all.

The report says security forces have arrested more than 70 medical professionals, and fired more than 150 health care workers from their jobs.

Bahrain's Shi'ite majority led the mass protests, which began in February and ended the following month in a crackdown by government troops and allied military units from neighboring Gulf states. At least 30 people were killed in the unrest, including several policemen.

Some of the protesters wanted Bahrain's ruling al-Khalifa family to grant majority Shi'ites a greater role in a constitutional monarchy, while others called for the ouster of the Sunni dynasty.

The Gulf state's minority Sunni rulers began a national dialogue with the opposition on July 2, but the main Shi'ite opposition party said Sunday it is pulling out of the talks.

The United States has expressed support for the dialogue in Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.