( Ref: http://bahrain.phrblog.org/the-missing )
3 - PHR Denounces Sentences Passed on Bahraini Medics and Protestors
Calls for persecution of health providers to cease
Dr. Nada Dhaif's real crime:
Dr Nada Dhaif - sentenced to 15 years
Osama Al Aradi - President Bahrain Medical Association
Dominic Kavakeb - Bahrain Justice and Development Movement
Colin Cavell - Former Bahrain University Professor
Dr. Nada Dhaif, Bahraini physician, Manama interviews with Press TV about her disturbing ordeal she experienced at the hands of and in the custody of al-Khalifa forces - Forces that continue to be fully supported by the American and British governments. Following is a transcript of her interview.
Press TV: Tell us about what you experienced. Tell us about what happened in terms of what you were doing at the Pearl Roundabout; in terms of treating the wounded and the injured and of course, what followed after that?
Dr. Nada Dhaif: I was involved in setting the medical center at the Lulu roundabout and it was purely a volunteer job and I wanted to make sure as well as the rest of my colleagues that volunteered there that the maximum number of people could get the medical attention they deserved. It was purely professional and humanitarian.
Press TV: What happened to you in terms of you being detained - What kind of charges were brought against you?
Dr. Nada Dhaif: The charges I received was crimes against the state. The most serious charge was occupying a hospital with force, using weapons and controlling the hospital. Another serious charge was inciting the overthrow of the regime; and spreading false news and hatred of the regime and other charges…
Press TV: Are they valid?
Dr. Nada Dhaif: Not at all. First of all, I work in a private clinic - my own private clinic. I've always worked in the private sector, never in government. I find the charges ridiculous. There is no single evidence for those charges and yet I was sentenced for fifteen years. There was no single evidence provided against me.
Even all of the witnesses - the state witnesses as well as the defense witnesses from the acumen of the hospital and from the acumen of the Ministry said they don't know her (me) and that she never came to the hospital. And still I was charged for that serious crime and sentenced.
Press TV: Tell us about when they came for you - We understand that regime forces came into your house in the middle of the night and detained you. What ordeal did you go through at that moment and then following that? Where did they take you and was there any type of abuse or torture?
Dr. Nada Dhaif: I was detained on the 19th. At first I didn't know they were security forces - they were just people in civilian clothes and armed and so I thought I was kidnapped. It was 3am. They stormed into my house and I was taken blindfolded and handcuffed. They had civilian cars and didn't wear uniforms so I didn't know who they were.
I was taken to an unknown place. Later on, a week or ten days later, I realized I was taken to the information department, the CID (Criminal Investigations Directorate) in al Adlia, the investigation department.
Immediately after I was taken or kidnapped, the mistreatment started with beatings and kicking and cursing and to the extent that an electric device was used on my ears and my face.
Press TV: Do I understand you correctly that you were shocked, that electric shocks were exercised on you?
Dr. Nada Dhaif: Yes, yes exactly.
Press TV: What did you do - What did you say to them?
Dr. Nada Dhaif: I was in shock. I was crying and I lost consciousness three or four times during that period. I lost consciousness; I was taken to their military clinic.
Press TV: You said it took about a week to ten days before you understood what was going on during this time - Were you allowed, a) visitation rights by a family member or b) and maybe more importantly, access to lawyers?
Dr. Nada Dhaif: Not at all. I was not allowed to call my family. I was allowed to call my husband for one minute and I was on speaker phone. I was not allowed to shower or bath or go the bathroom for that long period.
It was a month later when I first talked with my kids, my little girls and never to my lawyer. Until the day of my release I was not allowed visitation.
Press TV: This might be very hard for you to answer, but I'd like to ask you anyway and if you feel uncomfortable you don't need to answer - the way you were treated - you mentioned you were shocked, electrocuted - What other forms of abuse happened while you were in detention or other forms of abuse you experienced?
Dr. Nada Dhaif: There was verbal abuse at the evaluation cursing me and cursing my family; my religion; always calling me bad names all based around sex. I was threatened with rape if I didn't confess and sign on the papers - I was blindfolded.
Press TV: Aside from what you have gone through, tell us about the movement, about the Bahrainis upon hearing your case and other cases similar to you - What do they feel at this point in terms of the revolution there?
Dr. Nada Dhaif: Well, I can't speak about politics because I am purely professional (medical), but I see so much hate on the street; so much feeling. And I see people not accepting it - they look up to us as heroes and it's hurting them that they (the regime) are doing this to their doctors who stood for them and helped them.
I am completely speechless. If you were living here in Manama you would feel the heat and the situation looks like it's about to explode.
Press TV: You've been sentenced to fifteen years - Can you repeal? What's going to happen in terms of when this sentence is going to come into effect - When do you have to submit yourself?
Dr. Nada Dhaif: I don't know because at this time they are transferring our files from the military court to the civilian court and that should start by early next week. We are not sure, but expect an arrest warrant and we have passed a message that we are ready to submit ourselves.
We don't want to have to go through that horrifying drama again. I don't want my kids to go through that again; it has already scarred them and will scar them for the rest of their lives. I don't want it to happen again and am even willing to go by myself.
Press TV: Is your family in immediate danger?
Dr. Nada Dhaif: I think so, yes.
"I was sentenced for 15 years in prison," she said. "It was a complete total shock."
The World Medical Association has called the sentences handed down to 20 doctors "totally unacceptable." The convictions were based on confessions -- some broadcast on TV, and some, as in Dhaif's case, extracted under duress.
"I was given an abundance of papers to sign while I was blindfolded," she said.
"You were given papers while you blindfolded and told to sign them?" asked Phillips.
"Why did you sign those papers if you couldn't see what you were signing?"
"I was threatened," said Dhaif. "I had to sign them. They would beat me, torture me if I don't go ahead and sign those papers."
Dhaif is out on bail now, but expects to be re-arrested -- separated from her children again and sent to prison at any moment.
Going public, she said, is her only hope.
The World Today spoke to one of those doctors in August when she told us she feared giving us her name. Now Dr Nada Dhaif has received a 15-year-sentence and says there's no point hiding her identity.
She spoke to Connie Agius.
CONNIE AGIUS: When The World Today spoke to Doctor Nada Dhaif in July this year, she said she knew she and her colleagues were being targeted because they had been witnesses to the crimes of the regime.
Dr Dhaif was one of 57 medics charged with crimes against the state.
Today 20 of them were handed their punishments. Dr Dhaif received one of the harshest sentences - 15 years in jail.
NADA DHAIF: It was very quick today at the court. Our lawyers asked us not to be present because in case if we get verdicts they will take it into action and they will pull us in.
So my family went to the court. It finished so quickly. They just read the verdicts and it was very shocking and irrational. We (inaudible) through the Twitter, through the Facebook, just shortly before the people came out of the court and spread it.
CONNIE AGIUS: It's the culmination of a tortuous period for many of those caught up in the protests against the regime earlier this year.
Dr Dhaif maintains her only crime was to treat the protesters who arrived at the Salmaniya Medical Centre in the capital Manama.
She says she was detained for two months, beaten with rubber hoses, threatened with rape, and not allowed to sleep.
She says she was released after signing a confession while blindfolded, and forced to appear on national television to admit to links to Iran, stealing hospital equipment and causing the deaths of patients.
Abdulaziz al Khalifa from the Bahrain Information Affairs Authority says their crimes amounted to an attempt to overthrow the regime.
ABDULAZIZ AL KHALIFA: We have found these 20 people not practising their profession in the manner that all doctors and nurses should have been abiding to.
This is based on evidence and actions that is in direct contravention of the medical roles and responsibilities.
CONNIE AGIUS: But Nada Dhaif says the doctors have been given little opportunity to defend the charges. She says the evidence they've presented to the court has been ignored.
NADA DHAIF: No matter what evidence and documents and witnesses we gave to the judge, nothing seems to work.
My lawyers tried to grant me the permission to speak to the judge and say what happened and he refused to listen to us. Even the hearing sessions, before the sentencing, it was cancelled.
Our lawyers, they were not allowed to go and submit it verbally. I mean the judge asked for everything in writing. All these points are in valid to them. Still they carried on and they gave me 15 years for that charge.
CONNIE AGIUS: Doctor Dhaif says it's a lot to come to terms with.
NADA DHAIF: I'm still shocked. Everybody is actually. It's beyond reason. It's very irrational. Most of us were very shaky after hearing the verdict.
I still can't believe it. I mean why? The question is why I was sentenced for 15 years just for helping injured people? I did crimes against the state, what crimes?
CONNIE AGIUS: But she says she now faces one of her toughest challenges, how to explain the news to her two daughters.
NADA DHAIF: They're already very much traumatised from the way I disappeared the last time. Their mother was gone for two months and they didn't know where I was.
They just woke up in the morning and I was gone. And when I came back home they were blaming me. Mum, you didn't call. You didn't take your bag. You didn't take your things. We didn't believe you. Where were you? How come you didn't ask about us? And it's very much heart breaking.
I cannot announce that news to them. They don't know what's going on. One of them is eight, the other one is six plus. It's too hard. They will not understand.
I need to sit with their father and we need to decide what's the proper thing to do. I really don't know.
CONNIE AGIUS: A second group of Bahraini doctors, facing similar charges, are due to attend court in October.
PETER CAVE: Connie Agius reporting.
The following remain accused of misdemeanor:
Other known missing or detained medical professionals in Bahrain
Bahraini doctors jailed for treating injured protesters
Twenty Bahraini medics who treated activists wounded during anti-government protests were jailed for between five and 15 years in sentences that were immediately denounced by medical bodies and human rights groups around the world.
Free Dr. Nada Dhaif on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Dr-Nada-Dhaif/159601234103681