Bahrain Doctors Tortured Into Confessing, Say Families

Bahrain Doctors Tortured Into Confessing, Say Families (BBC News, June 20, 2011):

Twenty Bahraini doctors on trial for taking part in anti-government protests were tortured into making false confessions, their families have told the BBC.

The wife of one of the suspects said they had been forced to stand for three weeks and unable to sleep.

The defendants returned to court on Monday accused of taking over a hospital during protests in March.

Hundreds have been detained since the demonstrations were suppressed.

‘Bizarre list of crimes’

On Monday, the doctors shuffled into court looking pale and tired.

Some looked dejected, staring at their feet, while others, still proud, looked their accusers in the eye.

Many shook their heads as the accusations against them were read out.

The doctors are accused of taking over the country’s biggest hospital and using it as a base to try to overthrow the Bahraini regime.

The first government witness accused them of a bizarre list of crimes including stealing blood from the blood-bank, and transporting guns in ambulances.

But interviews with families of several doctors revealed compelling evidence that many of those on trial had been tortured.

The wife of one of them told me her husband had signed a confession after being left standing for three weeks, handcuffed, unable to sleep.

There seems little doubt that the doctors did support the anti-government demonstrations that swept Bahrain this spring.

But their real crime appears to have been to speak out to the international media when the government began its violent suppression of the protests at the end of March.

Human rights groups say the fact the doctors are being tried in a military court is no accident.

They say it shows that the hard-liners who have now taken control inside Bahrain’s ruling family are determined to make an example of them.

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