Doctors are the most trusted members of any society. There are specialists who fix our eyes, bones, our organs and even help with invisible psychological problems. Most of us do not truly appreciate the years of studying, working and self-sacrifice that a medical student goes through before permitted to perform simple check-ups. Medical drugs are mysterious to most of us but we unquestionably obey doctors’ orders with dosage of whatever medication is prescribed to us.
Healthcare professionals historically swear to practice medicine ethically and honestly by taking the Hippocratic Oath. “The Declaration of Geneva was adopted by the General Assembly of the World Medical Association at Geneva in 1948. It was amended in 1968, 1984, 1994, 2005 and 2006. It currently reads;
AT THE TIME OF BEING ADMITTED AS A MEMBER OF THE MEDICAL PROFESSION:
a. I SOLEMNLY PLEDGE to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;
b. I WILL GIVE to my teachers the respect and gratitude that is their due;
c. I WILL PRACTICE my profession with conscience and dignity;
d. THE HEALTH OF MY PATIENT will be my first consideration;
e. I WILL RESPECT the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died;
f. I WILL MAINTAIN by all the means in my power, the honour and the noble traditions of the medical profession;
g. MY COLLEAGUES will be my sisters and brothers;
h. I WILL NOT PERMIT considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;
i. I WILL MAINTAIN the utmost respect for human life;
j. I WILL NOT USE my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;
k. I MAKE THESE PROMISES solemnly, freely and upon my honour.
So, in a perfect world medics are held in the highest regard, after all, we trust them with our families’ lives – literally.
Prior to February 2011 people in Bahrain were oblivious to the carnage the opposition was plotting; the economy was spinning, we were spending more, earning more and investment in real estate was booming. Bahrainis and expatriates were planning retirement within new communities in Amwaj, Juffair, Durrat, Budaiya, Riffa among others. Banks were investing in housing projects across the island. There were new hospitals and education centres like King Hamad Hospital, Royal College of Surgeons, Royal College for Women, Bahrain Polytechnic, AMA and NYIT establishing themselves in Bahrain. The government was consolidating its plans to ensure we had the best education, housing and medical services at our doorstep. The country was booming and the leadership was in the process of implementing even bigger strategies for our future with Vision 2030. The Kingdom of Bahrain was moving forward; it was a time of growth. More international companies and in particular in the banking sector were expanding, thus creating more employment for the local workforce whose training requirements were being met through the government labour fund, Tamkeen.
What more could the people want? But AlWefaq under the radical leadership of Isa Qassim (appointed by his leaders in Iran) was planning in the dark to destroy the work of a government whose only vision was for the betterment of the people and future generations to come – and all because Khamenei believed Bahrain was the 14th State of Iran.
We did not see the fireball trundling towards us.
To better understand the situation at Salmaniya Hospital, it is important to understand the intricate planning and conspiracy of trusted officials against the government of Bahrain and the role of medical practitioners who did not abide by the very oath of their profession. There was no mass murder with hundreds of people being rolled into the hospital due to government troops attacking. This was in simple terms a coup that the opposition lost; anyone who lives in Bahrain knows this as the truth.
Between February and March 2011, the country slowly ground to a standstill with the occupation of the GCC Roundabout. As in any coup, it is important for the perpetrators to cease the functioning of major facilities or services. The first target was the largest government hospital Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) built by the late Shaikh Salman Al Khalifa for the people of Bahrain. In close proximity to the occupied roundabout, opposition followers were able to set-up medical camps on the roundabout using ambulances to transport medical equipment and pharmaceutical drugs. Teams of opposition followers set-up stages and camps within SMC’s grounds. Opposition religious leaders and medics gave radical speeches on the stages to incite hatred and violence (using microphones and loudhailers) calling for the downfall of the Al Khalifa monarchy. Abusing the Geneva Convention and being aware that security would not raid the medical complex, the opposition leaders built their headquarters. From this vast campus they made plans, implemented plans, held hostages, created torture chambers, stashed weapons and even set-up a fully equipped broad casting studios to air Iranian TV Channels which Iranian officials visited regularly.
Expatriates and non-shia’a were now unwelcome and refused treatment at this hospital.
Ambulance drivers were at the GCC roundabout following team leaders’ instructions – let us not be mistaken, these are highly organized terror groups. Meanwhile, the medical staff began to break the Hippocratic oath – a devastating time for a country that had worked so hard and come so far. Our people were suffering but the leadership was suffering more. The very people they had entrusted in influential positions for a better Bahrain had turned against their own country.
A 15year old Bahraini Diabetic, Fatima Abbasi died when an ambulance refused to pick her up at her home and in another case a father carried his helpless suffering infant son in his arms pleading with the staff for medical assistance, but was rejected treatment; their crime was being non-shia’a. Expatriate workers were refused entry and many were threatened. The Bahrain Defence Force hospital and other private hospitals stepped in and any patients who were unable to get treatment in Bahrain were sent to neighbouring KSA.
During this period Dr. Nizar Al Bahrana, founding member of Al Wefaq, ex-Dean of Engineering at the University of Bahrain, ex-Minister of State and ex-Chairman of Tamkeen, a well-respected man in Bahrain society was appointed as Minister of Health (MOH). The main concern for the government was that people who relied on regular medical services were not permitted treatment in a hospital that had the largest dialysis centre, maternity unit, ICU, burns unit and oncology department. We were in despair – yet, International Human Rights Activists sympathised with the opposition medics – a heartbreaking scenario.
People soon discovered that the very man heading the medical sector in the country was in fact, following the opposition plan as laid out by Isa Qassim’s leaders in Tehran. Nizar Baharna permitted tents in the emergency areas, allowed ambulances to roam around at will, allowing transportation of weapons in the ambulances. The opposition accused the Government of not allowing ambulances to respond to emergency calls from the GCC Roundabout, but we witnessed ambulances positioned directly behind the protestors supporting them with weapons and medical supplies during all their atrocities including the attack on the University of Bahrain. In one case protestors attacked a Ministry of Interior Ambulance where a pregnant nurse and her colleague were attacked forcing them to abandon the vehicle and forced to run almost 2kms for their lives. But the worst was yet to come.
In March, teams of opposition followers went into expatriate areas and dragged workers out of their homes accusing them of being “mercenaries and government spies”. Some of these men were beaten, some were murdered while other workers were bundled into ambulances – these Asian labour workers begged for mercy – no-one heard their cries except us. Ambulances took these men to the roundabout where they were subjected to more abuse, whilst others were taken to the hospital and held as hostages – beaten and tortured. Human Rights Groups around the world and Western Governments watched in silence not once condemning these heinous acts.
The MOH was nowhere to be found – he would not answer calls. I myself called him demanding to know why the ambulances were at the Bahrain Financial Harbour and not at the hospital – he hung up. Bahrain TV aired a video (filmed by the opposition) of doctors celebrating in the hospital but Baharna said, “ I have just come from the hospital and there is nothing there – it is functioning as normal”. Doctors were giving live interviews to international media, falsely accusing the government of atrocities, whilst sensationalizing the plight of the radical opposition without a thought for patients or expatriates suffering at their hands. Opposition followers threatened expatriate nurses and doctors and did not allow them to treat non-shia’a patients. We waited but not a word from the minister of health.
Meanwhile Baharna made an excuse to travel abroad. Instead of helping a weeping and injured nation he went to the UN representing the opposition to circulate false information against the Government of Bahrain. We were deeply shocked that an official who in 2008 praised Bahrain’s seriousness for Human Rights was now making baseless accusations. The UN listened and again, the West and Human Rights groups across the globe sat in silence whilst our country bled. No one came to our aid, no one supported our people or our leadership – they seemed to be conspiring to sell our country.
Salmaniya Hospital was in chaos. If this had happened anywhere else in the world the military would have raided the hospital from the first moment and justified death and destruction.
The Bahraini doctors and nurses that you see on trial and jailed deserve to be where they are. Their offence is not only breaking the Hippocratic oath, their crime is committing unforgiveable crimes against humanity. The peaceful majority of Bahrain felt devastated and helplessness was engulfing us. The Prime Minister personally met with the Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani Ambassadors to assure them that the safety of all expatriate workers was of paramount importance to him. The PM continues to advocate the importance and rights of expatriate workers at all levels.
Some of the guilty medics have been jailed. What is astonishing is that we see condemnation from the Irish Medical authorities and there are even articles by Sharmila Devi in the Lancet Journal (a highly read and respected medical magazine) using headlines such as “Bahrain continues to target Shia’a Doctors”. These accusers do not live in Bahrain; they did not even witness what we experienced. Information by these writers and propagandists is baseless and unjustifiable to this multi-cultural society and a leadership that is known for its tolerance and foresight.
Interestingly many of these doctors who were sadistic towards expatriates and non-shia’a whilst calling for the downfall of the Al Khalifa family have dual nationalities and were educated by the state – yet they condescendly refer to expatriates as paid mercenaries. To date opposition followers brutally attack naturalized citizens and non-Bahrainis. These medics even caused the death of their own followers for the sake of sensationalism and blamed the government. It is unacceptable for medics anywhere in the world to use their profession for political gain. The West would never be coerced into forgiving crimes of this nature – why should we? For most of us in Bahrain it was a time we felt insecure and frightened to the core. It seems the West Wing does not value human life that does not follow Welayat Faqih.
Iranian Doctors Arash and Kamiar Alaei were jailed by their government in 2008 for ostensibly “working with an enemy government” toward the overthrow of the Iranian government. Their only crime? Working with colleagues internationally to eradicate HIV/AIDS.
In 2010 the UK Independent reported; A struck-off doctor was jailed for selling slimming pills to patients across the country, police said. Sudesh Madan, 57, of Homeway, Romford, Essex, was given an 18-month prison sentence at St Albans Crown Court yesterday after previously admitting four counts of possession with intent to supply a controlled drug and four counts of supplying a controlled drug.
In December 2012 media reported; A doctor was jailed for 20 years and ordered to repay over €6m for fraud at a Mississippi cancer centre. US district judge Daniel Jordan, sentencing Meera Sachdeva, said syringes were re-used and different patients’ chemotherapy drugs were drawn from the same bag.
Are any of the above crimes comparable to the unethical, cruel and callousness of the “Irish” trained Bahraini medics? Majority of us unequivocally say NO!
Two of the prominent figures at SMC were, Dr. Ali Ekri and Dr.Ghasan Dhaif. Ekri a pediatrician, danced in the corridors with other doctors and nurses celebrating. He even made a statement saying that the medical personnel had adopted the 14th February movement. He exposed patient identities to media as well as performed surgeries he was untrained for nor required by the patient and refused to treat non-Shia’a. The other, Dr Gasan Dhaif is a dentist but was at the Accident and Emergency unit and blatantly lied live on air to international media. Incidentally he had a lucrative private practice with many Sunnis and expatriates patients. He too refused to treat non-Shia’a. There were protestors like Saeed Al Aradi, who donned white doctors’ coats and posed as medics causing the death of some and endangering the lives of others. These same men and women also gave interviews to international media spreading falsified information to the world. Protestors were injected with atropine and smeared with anti-acid lotion Moxol to simulate symptoms and give the appearance of being attacked by chemical gas.
Doctors and nurses went on strike and instead of caring for the patients – they went on a rampage through the corridors smashing pictures of the leadership, calling for the downfall of the government and the deportation of naturalized citizens. As per the constitution these same criminal medics coyly sitting in the docks are given a fair trial. Present at the hearings are lawyers and international UN and HR representatives yet the international media and the West chooses to ignore facts. Let us not forget that during this mayhem there were seriously ill men, women and children in the hospital who were deprived medical treatment and in some cases rejected completely. Are non-believers of Welayat Faqih not worthy of human rights? It is evident that the Hippocratic Oath was infact, for these Bahraini medics, the Hypocritic Oath.
We must commend the work and professionalism of the other thousands of innocent medics in Bahrain who never faltered from their medical and humanitarian duty. These valued members of our society worked throughout this period and ensured that our community received expert medical care.
The people of this country both residents and citizens must join hands and take the time to salute our leadership for taking a strong stance for the sake of the peaceful majority – this is our country and we must be proud. Do not doubt for one second, that our leaders made decisions for humanitarian reasons and for the continued safety and security of the people in Bahrain.