UN slams military takeover of Bahrain hospitals

17th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

UN rights chief Navi Pillay on Thursday slammed security forces' takeover of Bahrain hospitals and medical facilities as "a blatant violation of international law."

Pillay said in a statement she was "deeply alarmed by the escalation of violence by security forces in Bahrain, in particular the reported takeover of hospitals and medical centres" in the country, which she called a "shocking and a blatant violation of international law."

Rights activists have deplored a bloody crackdown mounted by Sunni rulers against Shiite-led protests, accusing security forces of preventing the injured from reaching hospitals and of beating medics trying to collect the wounded from the streets.

Manama's main hospital was sealed off by police armed with shotguns, and Bahrain's Health Minister Nizar Baharna, a Shiite, announced his resignation after police allegedly burst into a Manama hospital.

"Governments are obliged to protect the rights to life and health of the people, but we are hearing very credible reports indicating that they are in fact obstructing access to such rights," said Pillay.

She revealed that her office has received calls and emails from individuals in Bahrain, who are "terrified about the armed forces' intentions."

"There are reports of arbitrary arrests, killings, beatings of protesters and of medical personnel, and of the takeover of hospitals and medical centres by various security forces.

"This is shocking and illegal conduct," she stressed, calling on the security forces to leave health care facilities and to stop harassing health workers.

Pillay said the government must stop using force against unarmed protestors and to allow the injured to get treatment.

"I also urge the protesters and the government to engage in immediate dialogue for meaningful reforms and an end to violence," Pillay said.

Bahrain rounded up dissidents on Thursday, as it came under pressure to end its bloody crackdown on protestors.

King Hamad, supported by troops who arrived on Tuesday along with armoured vehicles from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has declared a three-month state of emergency in the country.

© 2011 AFP

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