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Thursday, 29 July 2021

Convicted Bahraini doctor ends hunger strike

Saeed Al-Samahej, a Bahraini doctor sentenced to one year in prison for his role in Arab Spring protests, announces he is ending his four-day hunger strike

AFP , Sunday 24 Jun 2012

A Bahraini doctor, sentenced to one year in jail for his role in last year's anti-government protests, said on Sunday that he has ended his four-day hunger strike.

Saeed Al-Samaheji, one of 20 doctors and nurses who faced charges for their role in Bahrain's Arab Spring uprisings, said the hunger strike was a move by "medics to reject and object to the court's verdicts."

Samaheji began the strike Thursday after an appeals court cut his jail term to one year along with eight other medics and acquitted nine others for their role in the protests, in a case widely criticised by human rights groups.

Two medics arrested in the crackdown, who remain at large, did not appeal.

The medics worked at Manama's Salmaniya Medical complex, stormed by security forces after a crackdown on a protest camp in the capital's nearby Pearl Square in March 2011.

The 18 who had been arrested have been out on bail since September.

The medics had faced a series of charges, including occupying the medical centre and possessing weapons, while denying Sunni Muslims access to the hospital as Shiite demonstrators camped in the car park.

They have always insisted on their innocence.

"The medics made huge efforts to save the wounded during last year's events," Samaheji said at a centre belonging to Al-Wefaq, the main Shiite opposition group, after declaring an end to his hunger strike.

Many of the 20 medics -- 15 of whom are doctors -- alleged they were tortured in prison.

Separately, Al-Wefaq said that a protester, who was injured while trying to protect Bahrain's opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman from security forces at a protest last week, remained "in critical condition" in hospital.

Ali Mohammed Al-Muwali suffered "a broken skull which was caused by a direct hit by a bullet" on Friday when "he was surrounding Sheikh Ali Salman," Al-Wefaq said.

Salman was also wounded with rubber bullets "in his shoulder and back" during the protest in the Bilad al-Qadeem village, three kilometres (around two miles) from Manama, Al-Wefaq said.

Protests have intensified in villages around the capital since the March 2011 crackdown ended month-long Shiite-led protests in Manama's Pearl Square.

Amnesty International says 60 people have been killed since the protests erupted in February 2011 in the Gulf kingdom ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty.

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