Bahrain's gaoled nurses and doctors


Keiran Dalton of the NSWNMA will be speaking this Saturday  at a public meeting that was also to have been addressed by Bahraini surgeon Dr Ghassan Dhaif. Dr Dhaif has been denied entry to Australia by the federal Government, despite the fact that federal MPs  condemned the ongoing crackdown on Bahrain’s mass protest movement in a Parliamentary debate only a week ago.

The public meeting, however, will still go ahead and here Keiran provides some background information.

In 2013, Bahraini nurses are still in gaol for tending wounded protesters in the Arab Spring demonstrations in Bahrain in February 2011.

These nurses are: Secretary-General of the Bahraini Nursing Society, Ibrahim al Demistani, Nurse Assistant, Haleema Al Sabagh, and Emergency Department Nurse, Hassan Matooq.

In March 2011, Bahraini security forces stormed Salmaniya Hospital, where many of the wounded of the ‘Arab Spring’ were being treated. Ninety-five healthworkers were arrested, tortured and incarcerated. International efforts have secured the release of many but seven remain in gaol, including until recently Dr Dhaif .

                                                 ED nurse Hassan Matooq.

In February this year the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) launched a Bahrain Solidarity Campaign calling for the release of the seven healthworkers, including the above three nurses. One of these healthworkers, Dr Ghassan Dhaif, a maxillofacial surgeon who treated protesters with facial wounds, has since been released. He was to do an Australian speaking tour this month endorsed by Amnesty International Australia, the ACTU, Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA), the ANF and AEU. Dr Dhaif was to speak at a public meeting this Saturday, 15 June. However he has been denied entry by the Australian Government.

Dr Ghassan Dhaif.

The public meeting will still proceed and Keiran Dalton will speak on behalf of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association. All members are welcome to attend to demonstrate our support for the Bahraini healthworkers who have been tortured and gaoled for abiding by their professional ethics.

Where and when: Saturday 15 June, 3pm at the Unions NSW Trade Hall Auditorium, 4 Goulburn Street, Sydney ( entry via rear doors in Dixon Street).

The Guardian carried an interview with nurse Roula al-Saffar of her arrest and torture by Bahraini authorities just for treating protesters injured by police.


  1. The experience of Bahraini medical staff during the 2011 crackdown and the ongoing militarisation of health services in Bahrain has been well documented and condemned over the past two years by reputable international organisations including the World Health Organisation, the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights. The latest report of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, titled ‘Bahrain: Limited Medical Access and Breach of Medical Neutrality”, thoroughly evidences the unlawful targeting of medical staff and services by Bahraini security forces. You can see the report at this link:
    As stated in a Human Rights First article published yesterday at this link
    “The targeting of Bahraini medics is one of the most widely-reported symbols of the harsh government crackdown”.


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