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Bahraini Health Professional Released after Serving Three-Year Sentence

On April 28, 2015, Ebrahim al-Demistani, a Bahraini nurse and first aid provider, was released from Jaw prison after serving his entire three-year sentence. The CHR is heartened to know that he is reunited with his family and will be able to obtain the much-needed medical care that he was denied while in prison.

In March 2011, when Bahraini security forces violently cracked down on protesters who had taken to the streets to call for political reforms, Mr. al-Demistani was one of dozens of health professionals who went to Manama’s main public hospital to treat the wounded protesters. He spent much of the following weeks providing medical treatment to hundreds of civilians severely injured by tear gas canisters and bird-shot pellets. During this time, he saw security forces prevent ambulances from bringing injured protesters to the hospital and patients who were taken from their hospital beds to jail. When foreign journalists at the hospital questioned him, Mr. al-Demistani told them what he had witnessed and criticized the government’s violent actions and failure to help the injured to obtain medical care. He was among a group of 20 health professionals who were arrested in late March and April 2011, allegedly tortured, and convicted following an unjust trial before a military court. Originally sentenced to 15 years in prison, Mr. al-Demistani’s sentence was eventually reduced to three years on appeal following widespread international criticism of the Bahraini government’s handling of the protests.