Violent Crackdown Against Protesters in Bahrain; Hospitals Also Targeted

WLP has just received the following appeal from our colleagues in Bahrain:

Civil society organizations in Bahrain are appealing for support, as developments in the country today have led to serious safety risks for citizens who have been protesting for democratic change since February 14.

Bahrain has been witnessing mass attacks by riot police, armed militia, and most recently Bahraini armed forces and Saudi-Gulf forces, against unarmed civilian protesters in the Shia areas of Manama, Muhraq, Sitra, Hamad, and most of the northern and middle region along Budaya Road. The violence culminated with a serious attack on Sitra Island on Tuesday, which left three dead and hundreds wounded.

At dawn on Wednesday, military forces carried out a sweeping attack in Lulu Circle (Martyr Square), where, in addition to riot police, Bahraini and Saudi armed forces fired on protesters using live ammunition and tear gas, while Apache helicopters circled the area.

On both days, ambulances from central Salmaniya hospital were prevented from taking casualties, and hospital staff were assaulted. In Sitra, the local medical center was attacked and overtaken by the militia. In Lulu Circle, ambulances were barred, Salmanya hospital was attacked by riot police, and many patients were arrested. Additionally, electricity was cut off in Lulu Circle and all surrounding areas, including Salmaniya hospital, and mobile phone service was cut off in the northern region of the country throughout the morning.

We appeal to The Security Council, The United Nations, The Arab League, and the international community, to curb these attacks, and to help end this violence. We also appeal to relief agencies such as the International Rescue Committee, Medecins Sans Frontieres, and the Arab and International Red Crescent and Red Cross, to intervene to break the siege of hospitals and assaults against medical staff.

The Bahraini Civil Society Organizations, Bahrain, 16th March, 2011

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