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Bahraini Pediatrician Ali Esa Mansoor Al-‘Ekri Released from Prison

Ali al-EkriDr. Ali Esa Mansoor al-‘Ekri, a Bahraini pediatric orthopedic surgeon, was released from Jaw Prison on March 10, 2017, after completing his five-year sentence.

In early 2011, amid growing anti-government protests, the Bahraini government sent security forces to the center of the capital city of Manama and violently cleared the area using tear gas canisters, bird-shot pellets, and brutal beatings. Dr. al-‘Ekri was among many health professionals who spent much of the ensuing weeks at al-Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC), Manama’s main public hospital, providing medical treatment to hundreds of wounded protestors. After witnessing the severity and nature of the injuries sustained by the protestors, and the intervention of security forces to prevent patients from getting medical care, Dr. al-‘Ekri and a number of other health professionals spoke out about what they had witnessed. In interviews with foreign journalists they criticized the government’s violent actions and failure to help the injured obtain medical care. After the Ministry of Health refused to allow doctors to send ambulances to treat the injured at further demonstrations, Dr. al-‘Ekri called for the resignation of Bahrain’s Minister of Health. A few days later, on March 17, while performing surgery in an operating room at the SMC, he was accosted by masked security forces without an arrest warrant, blindfolded, handcuffed and taken away. He was one of several dozen health professionals who were arrested that month.

In June 2011, before a military court in proceedings that failed to meet international fair trial standards, Dr. al-‘Ekri was convicted of charges that included incitement of hatred against the regime, spreading false news, inciting others not to comply with the applicable laws, and attempting to occupy by force a public building (the SMC). He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Following widespread international protest, Dr. al-‘Ekri and dozens of the other health professionals convicted with him were granted an appeals process before a civilian court and were released pending the outcome of their appeal. While several of the charges for which he had been convicted were dropped, the appeal process remained seriously flawed, including the use of coerced confessions to support his conviction. On appeal, Dr. al-‘Ekri’s prison sentence was reduced from 15 to 5 years, and he was returned to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence.