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Protecting the vulnerable: Bahrain

Inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, in early February of this year, the people of Bahrain started peaceful protests against the government of Bahrain. The government of Bahrain responded with a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protestors. Additional forces were also provided through Gulf Cooperation Council member states including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

IMI continues its advocacy efforts with respect to the abuse of medical/health professionals in Bahrain

in 2013, IMI released a report, Health Interrupted: the Systematic Targeting of Health Services in Bahrain, describing the targeting of health facilities and professionals by the security forces in Bahrain in the human rights and humanitarian crisis unfolding in Bahrain. This report serve as an evidentiary base and is based on research and investigations conducted by IMI's members and representatives in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the UK and the US and includes extracts of emails from IMI's members in Bahrain. At this time, many of them have been arrested and/or disappeared: we continue to hope and advocate for their safe release along with all other prisoners of conscience. The report concludes with policy recommendations for Bahrain, the United States and the international community.

Read the report here.

On April 25, 2011, IMI's International Projects, Diplomacy and Advocacy Officer, Ms. Sakina Rizvi also presented testimony at the IIC Congressional Briefing hosted by the Islamic Information Center at the Canon House Office Building on Capitol Hill. On behalf of IMI, Ms. Rizvi presented facts and information that proved that Bahrain was not only neglecting medical care for its citizens, but was engaged in direct efforts to deny medical care to ordinary individuals. Further, she emphasized that any individual suffering from obvious physical injury was subject to further injury, in the form of torture and other abuse, as they were assumed to be protesters. Ms. Rizvi's testimony included reading directly from emails received by regarding the deplorable situation in hospitals in Bahrain, as a direct result of government actions. Additional information regarding the derogation of human rights in Bahrain was also presented by Mr. T. Kumar (Amnesty International), Ms. Maryam Al Khawaja (Bahrain Center for Human Rights), and Mr. Joe Stork (Human Rights Watch).

Subsequently, Ms. Rizvi represented IMI as an observer of the Tom Lanton Human Rights Commission Hearing on Human Rights in Bahrain on May 13th where many of the IMI's concerns regarding the systematic and targeted abuses of health services and professionals were presented in the testimony presented by Richard Sollom, Deputy Director at Physicians for Human Rights. Testimony was also presented by Joe Stork (Human Rights Watch) and Maryam AlKhawaja (Bahrain Center for Human Rights).

Ms. Rizvi also participated in the Policy Forum hosted by the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy (ICRD) and American Muslims for Constructive Engagement (AMCE) to discuss recent developments in Bahrain with Congressional and/or Executive Branch staff in a private, off-the record meeting. The objectives of the Forum are three-fold: (1) to inform US foreign policy and public diplomacy with a more nuanced understanding of Islam; (2) to build bridges between US policymakers and Muslim leaders, groups, and institutions, both at home and overseas; and (3) to provide a platform for an ongoing frank exchange of views between American Muslims and USG policymakers.

IMI, in collaboration with numerous organizations, has called on the government of Bahrain to immediately rein in their security forces and halt the use of excessive force and escalation of violence in violation of international law and to ensure immediate protection for all health and medical workers attending victims of violence and full protection of the right to all appropriate medical care for those in need. We also advocate for the immediate establishment of an independent and thorough investigation into the destruction of patient information and their forced removal from Salmaniya Hospital, assaults on health and medical workers and the blocking of movement of ambulances, and that the government of Bahrain bring to justice those found responsible for these serious violations of human rights.

Since mid-February IMI has reached out to elected officials and the international community to highlight the human rights abuses in Bahrain following the protest on February 14. IMI sent the following letter to UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon on February 22nd with an attached petition signed by members of IMI, Muslims For Peace and the Mohsena Foundation. IMI has also sent letters to the World Health Organization, United Nations Human Rights Commission, UN and NGO’s including WONCA and medical societies; the governments of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar as they are part of the GCC (Gulf Countries Council); the Secretary of the GCC and the Executive Board Of The Health Ministers' Council. Following the government take-over of Salmaniya Hospital and the declaration of the State of National Safety in mid-March, IMI also sent an open letter to the King of Bahrain.

IMI continues to advocate for an improvement in the human rights conditions in Bahrain and accountability for those who were responsible. We urge you to add your voices through one of the following many way:

  • Send letters to Bahraini & Diplomatic officials re: excessive use of force and effective denial of medical care in Bahrain. See Urgent Action info here.

  • Send letters to the U.S. Department of State. See sample letter here.

  • Contact your Senators and Representatives and send letters to doctors on the Hill (see table below). See sample here.

  • Please click here for the up-to-date Citizen's Congressional Directory that will provide details for all Senators and Representatives for your address.

  • Call the Bahraini Embassy: 202-342-1111 and voice your concern.

  • Email the Bahraini Embassy: ambsecretary@bahrainembassy.org regarding your concerns.

  • Attend Solidarity events and rallies for Bahrain.

IMI and ACFBahrain Collaboration

Imamia Medics International’s UN axis is collaborating with the American Council for Freedom in Bahrain (ACFBahrain) and supporting human rights advocacy regarding abuses in Bahrain. ACFBahrain is a movement of concerned Americans who are uniting to speak out against human rights abuses in Bahrain. In particular, we support their condemnation of the excessive use of force, the harassment and intimidation of health professionals, and the effective denial of medical care for the injured by Bahrain armed forces and additional forces from other states. IMI also applauds their advocacy for the immediate protection for all health and medical workers attending the victims of violence in Bahrain and for the full protection of rights to all appropriate medical care of those suffering injuries due to the use of excessive force by the Government of Bahrain—including those patients with protest-related injuries who are currently being targeted by security and military forces for harassment and isolation in hospitals. We encourage everyone to support the advocacy on these important human rights issues.

Through ACFBahrain, IMI worked to facilitate the National Rally Against Human Rights Abuses in Bahrain on April 15, 2011. The rally started with a protest outside the Embassy of Saudi Arabia. Demonstrators then marched about a mile to Lafayette Park, for a rally at the White House. Over 2000 people participated in the rally, though some estimates by media covering the event have been as high as 4500-5000. Details on press coverage, and videos online can be found on the ACFBahrain blog.