Posted by on October 05, 2012 in Blog

A group of members of Congress from both chambers have drafted a letter to Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the King of Bahrain, calling for the pardon and release of doctors imprisoned during the uprising that rocked the country last year.

The Bahraini doctors were first arrested under suspicion of “criminal activity” in April 2011, but many believe that they were targeted for offering medical assistance to demonstrators, and witnessing the violence perpetrated by Bahraini and Saudi security forces against the Bahraini people. After a lengthy appeals process, the Bahraini supreme court upheld the conviction, and the doctors were placed back under arrest earlier this week.

The letter, co-authored by Congressmen Jim McDermott (D-WA), James McGovern (D-MA), John Conyers (D-MI), and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), reiterates previous statements about the government’s treatment of its protestors, and the continuing crackdown against peaceful demonstrators:

In the past, we and our colleagues have expressed our concern about the detention of political prisoners, excessive use of force against peaceful protesters, and the denial of independent investigators’ access to the country.  We remain concerned about the well-being of all those currently in detention and reiterate our calls for the Bahraini government to adhere to its promises to implement recommendations from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and from the Universal Periodic Review before the Human Rights Council. Pardoning the eight medics currently serving sentences for treating protesters would be a key step in moving Bahrain’s practice in line with its international obligations.

The members are currently seeking additional Congressional signatories. So far, the letter has been signed by John Olver (D-MA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Keith Ellison (D-MN).

The deadline to sign the letter has been extended to Tuesday, October 9.

Read the full letter here.

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