An Irish-trained surgeon has been sentenced to five years in a Bahrain jail for taking a part in an uprising in the country last year.
According to the Irish Times, an appeals court convicted the doctor, Ali al-Ekri, along with eight other medical professionals, who were all given sentences between one month and five years.
However, only two are expected to serve terms in prison; Dr Ekri (five years) and Ebrahim al-Demestani (three years).
Dr Ali al-Ekri studied at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin.
Nine doctors were acquitted of any wrongdoing, reports the Irish Times, including Nada Dhaif, chair of the Bahrain Rehabilitation and Anti Violence Organisation (Bravo).
At a briefing at the Mansion House in Dublin, she called on the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) to condemn the sentences handed down to the doctors.
“It’s not like the jails or prison in the modern world where a criminal goes in and gets rehabilitation,” she said. “It is a facility used to punish and torture people. People are punished there for freedom of expression.
“I lost a year-plus of my life fighting this regime."
The doctor, who claims the Bahraini authorities beat, electrocuted, and threatened to raper her, said her colleagues were jailed for speaking out against the Bahraini government and that she was personally prosecuted for talking to the press during the uprising. While she fears the persecution she face face on returning to the country, she said she will go there in the coming weeks to continue her campaign.
The RCSI yesterday issued this statement:
“The RCSI welcomes the release of a number of healthcare professionals. However, the college very much regrets the decision of the Bahraini government to sentence a number of medical personnel to terms in prison,” the statement said.
The college said the Bahraini government needed to show humanity by withdrawing the sentences. “We ask King Hamad to release those medics who have been sentenced or imprisoned. We are determined to contribute to the future of Bahrain by providing high-quality medical and nursing education in a non-sectarian environment to our more than 1,000 students,” the statement said.
“We will help them to reach their potential and so as to maximize future opportunities, irrespective of their background.”