Bahrain’s hospitals are becoming centers of terror and distrust as government officials use them to identify, torture and arrest protesters, doctors and nurses for their involvement in the ongoing uprising against the ruling Al Khalifa family.
Rather than risk capture by the authorities, many injured protesters are seeking treatment at ill-equipped, makeshift medical facilities at houses scattered throughout the country. Activists say the widespread reluctance to use professional hospitals has likely contributed to several deaths.
People arriving at the primary public hospital in the capital of Manama are regularly intercepted and questioned by guards seeking to identify members of the opposition. —ARK
The New York Times:
For the injured protesters, the houses have replaced the country’s largest public hospital, the Salmaniya Medical Complex, which has been a crucial site in the conflict between Bahrain’s ruling monarchy and its opponents since the beginning of a popular uprising in February 2011. Activists say that because of a heavy security presence at the hospital, protesters — or people fearful of being associated with Bahrain’s opposition — have been afraid to venture there for more than a year. That reluctance, officials and activists say, may be responsible for several deaths.
Last spring, the hospital became a symbol of the state’s repression, as the government arrested — and in some cases tortured — protesters, doctors and nurses for their involvement with the uprising. As its problems persist, Salmaniya has come to represent Bahrain’s dangerous impasse, marked by a growing rift between the country’s Shiite majority, which has long complained of official discrimination, and the Sunni political elite.
The authorities continue to prosecute Shiite doctors who worked at the hospital on charges including plotting to overthrow the government. Some of the doctors say their arrests represented a purge of Shiites, allowing the government to replace them with Sunni loyalists.
Al Jazeera English (CC BY-SA 2.0)
The exterior of Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama.