The Royal College of Surgeons Ireland and the Repression of Alumni, Fellows and all Hospital Workers in Bahrain

Date:

Witness Bahrain Ireland has called a demonstration this Tuesday because two RCSI alumni (who trained in Dublin) will be sentenced this Thursday (14th June) under scurrilous circumstances.  It is hoped that bearing witness and raising awareness about this issue will prompt the RSCI to use its influence in Bahrain[2] to help persecuted medical workers (some of whom the RSCI employs and have trained).  The two medical workers [due to receive their final sentencing on Thursday 14th] were arrested, tortured and sentenced in a military court for treating peaceful demonstrators who were victims of police brutality.[3] The RSCI response to this should be prompt, vigorous and completely unequivocal. 

This Tuesday (12th June) there will be demonstration at the RCSI (just off Stephen’s Green, near the Luas stop) in solidarity with RSCI alumni and fellows who have been tortured for treating protestors in Bahrain.  A letter will be delivered to the new President Mr. Paddy Rroe, voicing concerns; followed by a march on the Dail.  Later the same day in Buswells Hotel at 4pm there will be a press conference[1] where Bahraini doctors will join the press conference via Skype to give a first hand account of the situation in Bahrain now.f

The Royal College of Surgeons Ireland [RCSI] have engaged in a carefully crafted PR campaign since 2011 - where they [RSCI] appear to support the release of all medics (as noted in their most recent statement); but scratch beneath the surface and their actions [or lack thereof] reflect a different standpoint.  The RCSI have:

1. Remained silent during the first 6 months since February 2011; a time when the medics were being tortured.

2 Criticised Prof. Damian McCormack and Prof. Eoin O’Brien for going public on the issue.

3 Ignored the abduction and torture of their own staff - Dr. Fatima Haji.[4]

4 Fired a senior administrator last March weeks after the abduction of the Daihf brothers Bassim and Gassan. (Rhyaid Daihf... Their uncle!)

5. Denied the interrogation of and threats to their students in Bahrain until we delivered proof that they did so.[5]
 

Witness Bahrain Ireland

In the spring of 2011, inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Bahrainis occupied Pearl Roundabout in the capital Manama demanding ‘political and economic reforms’.[6]The police forces/ military continue to use tear gas guns [at very close range sometimes] and CS gas[7] on the population in order to repress dissent.  Hospital porters have been arrested and doctors lifted off the streets, detained and tortured for admitting or treating pro-democracy protestors; and excessive force is constantly used to disperse public protests: 

Although they [the Regime’s security forces] have reduced the use of shotguns since late 2011, security forces continue to face protesters with unnecessary and excessive force - particularly tear gas, which has resulted in several deaths in recent months. At least 60 people have now been killed in connection with protests since February 2011.[8]

(Underground hospitals/ field clinics do exist where protestors can be cared for, but there are little or no proper medical supplies available to them).[9]

In November 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) completed its investigation into human rights violations committed following the anti-government protests in February and March that year. However, scores of activists continue to be imprisoned and investigations into cases of police torture and killing of civilians have not been sufficiently thorough. This report documents these and other failures by the Bahraini authorities to fully implement BICI’s recommendations and commit themselves to getting accountability and justice for victims. (Amnesty April, 2012).

In response to this and the systemic and violent repression experienced in general under this authoritarian regime – the rule of the Al Khalifa family - Witness Bahrain Ireland is working to build a campaign which will bear witness to this brutal repression.  Anyone in Bahrain is likely to be arrested for just speaking out against the regime, participating in peaceful protests or assisting injured protestors [thereby impinging rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly; and contravening the Hippocratic Oath[10] which most medical workers have pledged to adhere to].  By bearing witness it is hoped that we can identify and draw public attention to those involved and/ or are complicit; and thereby bring pressure to bear on them – so that they will use their sway and influence to bring an end to the cruel and inhumane repression which exists in Bahrain, at present. 

Witness Bahrain Ireland recently held a public meeting in Wynns Hotel, where a few people shared their personal account of the current situation - what they have witnessed personally and heard first hand accounts of from the victims of torture, internment etc; and information about the context in which this brutality is occurring – particularly with regard to the doctors, nurses and all care/ hospital workers ‘on the ground’ in Bahrain.

 Despite the campaigning that has occurred to date, the RCSI has chosen to engage in a carefully crafted PR exercise regarding their stance on the persecution of care workers in Bahrain.  Although they have made statements on the issue, it is clear that given their actions [or lack thereof] they continue to pay lip service to the Regime, whilst ‘business as usual’ continues unabated. 

The Bahraini economy is dependent on tourism as a source of foreign investment.  Unlike its neighbours it [Bahrain] does not have vast oil reserves [but it is an important US ally given its geographic location/ proximity to other oil rich nations].[11]  The tourism industry is a significant contributor to its GDP and the Regime has engaged the services of numerous PR firms globally in order to maintain the spin and its image abroad.  From Ireland, this is possibly one of the weak points which can be utilised tactically by solidarity/ workers’ rights campaigners/ anyone.  By publicly ‘naming and shaming’ those who are involved, profiting or complicit [by virtue of their silence] in the current repressive status quo, the Bahraini regime will come under more pressure to end the violent repression of its people; and ultimately be held accountable in a public arena; rather than tarnish the image their many PR agencies had created and propagate.  The act of bearing witness can help refute and undermine the incoherency of spin and PR – this hollow rhetoric often bandied about in political-economic spheres and the mainstream media.

Calling on those with sway to apply political pressure, working where you are - talking to friends, family  and colleagues, organising public talks or talks in your workplace/ union; writing articles and calling out the perpetrators and those who are complicit, can all contribute to bringing about a swifter cessation of authoritarian violence experienced by medical workers and the Bahraini people in general.  The nurses, porters, doctors, care and hospital workers - and the people they need to treat and help - need support now.

Join the demo this Tuesday (12th) at 1pm at the Royal College of Surgeons or get in touch if you can help out or want to stay in touch with the campaign. 

[we are] marching in solidarity with RCSI alumni and fellows who have been brutally tortured for treating peaceful protesters in Bahrain. We are delivering a letter to RSCI to voice those concerns to the new president Mr. Paddy Broe and we invite RSCI to comment on ongoing concerns.[12]
 

Email: witnessbahrainireland@gmail.com

________________________________

Links/ references/ background reading:

(Notes: All websites were accessed 9/ 10 June 2012.  As always, Wikipedia is subject to change and it’s accuracy is sometimes contested).  

Media contact/ get involved: Email: witnessbahrainireland@gmail.com

Demonstration:  Facebook event:  http://www.facebook.com/messages/590982189#!/events/218200971633281/

Witness Bahrain:  http://witnessbahrain.org/

Doctors in Chains:  http://www.doctorsinchains.org/

Bahrain Center for Human Rightshttp://www.bahrainrights.org/en

Bahraini uprising (2011–present) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahraini_uprising_%282011%E2%80%93present%29

Modern Hippocratic Oath (Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocratic_Oath#Modern_version

Amnesty International 2012.

Bahrain: Flawed reforms: Bahrain fails to achieve justice for protesters http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/bahrain-reforms-risk-appearing-hollow-violations-continue-2012-04-17

Bahrain: Flawed reforms: Bahrain fails to achieve justice for protesters http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/014/2012/en

The West's Blind Spot in Bahrain – details the PR firms engaged by the Bahrain Regime (Accessed 10 June, 2010). http://www.worldpolicy.org/blog/2012/05/25/wests-blind-spot-bahrain

Western Apologists and their PR Ties 

http://chanad.posterous.com/western-apologists-and-their-pr-ties

http://www.salon.com/2012/01/04/lockheed_martin_goes_to_bat_for_oppressive_regime/

Bahrainworkers fired for supporting protests

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/04/2011460205145476.html

Protest as UK continues to arm repression in Bahrain http://www.caat.org.uk/press/archive.php?url=20120214prs

MPs publish report on scrutiny of arms export controls http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/other-committees/committee-on-arms-export-controls/news/report-published/

Campaign Against the Arms Trade [CAAT] – Bahrain Report http://www.caat.org.uk/resources/countries/bahrain/

Locheed Martin’s work with Bahraini lobbyists and media manipulation: Washington Times  http://www.salon.com/2012/01/04/lockheed_martin_goes_to_bat_for_oppressive_regime/

Lockheed Martin and lobbyists

On Nov. 30, the Washington Times published an Op-Ed under the headline “Bahrain, a vital U.S. ally: Backing protesters would betray a friend and harm American security.” http://www.arabist.net/blog/2012/1/6/the-military-industrial-complex-bahrain-edition.html

Smash EDO Campaign http://smashedo.org.uk/wp-resources

Corporate Watch Report: Legitimising the repression industry: non-lethal weapon use and ‘misuse’ in Bahrainn http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/?lid=3938

RoyalCollege of Surgeons in Ireland - Medical University of Bahrain  http://www.rcsi-mub.com/medicine

Press Release: http://www.irishpressreleases.ie/?p=16887




[1]
For  media/ contact purposes email: witnessbahrainireland@gmail.com

[2]Link to RCSI in Bahrain:  http://www.rcsi-mub.com/

[3]Event notice:  http://www.facebook.com/messages/590982189#!/events/218200971633281/

[4]Interview by Frontline Defenders - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85jEdCerDnQ

[5]Prof. Damian McCormack, RCSI and Witness Bahrain Ireland, (2012).

[6]CAAT – Bahrain  http://www.caat.org.uk/press/archive.php?url=20120214prs

[7]CS Gas - CAAT February 2011.   http://www.caat.org.uk/press/archive.php?url=20110217prs

[8]Amnesty International, 2012.  http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/014/2012/en

[9]Elaine (campaigner/ tweeter on Bahrain) shared her experiences of working with a woman in Bahrain who went house-to-house trying to help injured protestors.  Usually this careworker never had access to appropriate/ effective painkillers, medications or medical supplies. 

[10]Link to Modern Hippocratic Oath (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocratic_Oath#Modern_version

[11] On Nov. 30, the Washington Times published an Op-Ed under the headline “Bahrain, a vital U.S. ally: Backing protesters would betray a friend and harm American security.”

http://www.arabist.net/blog/2012/1/6/the-military-industrial-complex-bahrain-edition.html

[12]Prof. Damian McCormack, RCSI and Witness Bahrain Ireland, (2012).

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