Arrests and beatings of protesters and medical personnel by security forces in Bahrain are a “blatant violation of international law” that must stop immediately, said United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay.
“My office has been receiving desperate calls and e-mails from numerous individuals in Bahrain, terrified about the armed forces’ intentions,” she said on Thursday in an e-mailed statement from Geneva. “There are reports of arbitrary arrests, killings, beatings of protesters and of medical personnel, and of the takeover of hospitals and medical centers by various security forces.”
Pillay said Bahraini police, defence forces and troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council’s Peninsula Shield Force are responsible for the “shocking and illegal conduct.” She called on them to “immediately leave healthcare facilities and cease their harassment and intimidation of health professionals.”
Bahrain has been trying to end more than a month of unrest led by majority Shiites that has left about a dozen people dead and parts of the capital, Manama, paralysed. The government declared a three-month state of emergency on March 15 after troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states arrived to support the administration.
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has offered a national dialogue and Crown Prince Salman has said he’s committed to talks. Opposition groups have dismissed the offers.
Bahrain is a logistical hub and command centre for US naval operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Indian Ocean. It is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which protects oil supply lines that pass through the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
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