Thursday, 2 June 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
17. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has had or will have any discussions at EU level or directly with the Bahraini authorities regarding the imprisonment of Irish trained doctors in Bahrain for treating those injured in anti-government protests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13914/11]
23. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the ongoing business relationship between the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland with the state of Bahrain at a time when many human rights organisations are deeply concerned regarding the treatment and imprisonment of medical staff in Bahrain for apparently carrying out their duties as doctors and surgeons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13726/11]
33. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to protest at the highest level in Europe on the arrest and imprisonment of Irish trained doctors whose only crime was to treat civilians critically injured in recent civil rights demonstrations in Bahrain; his plans to intervene with the Government of Bahrain on their behalf and the actions he will take to defend the human rights of these doctors. [13725/11]
I am very concerned about the reports of detention, torture, intimidation and trials of medical professionals in Bahrain, some of whom are Irish-trained, for simply meeting their professional and ethical obligation to attend to those seriously injured in the recent violent clampdown against peaceful protestors. I understand that 47 doctors and nurses who tried to help those critically injured during the protests will be tried in a military court on charges of acting against the state. I am also troubled by the broader human rights situation in Bahrain, particularly the death penalty sentences recently handed down to four protestors.
The Government’s position on this is clear. We condemn all repressive actions by the Bahrain authorities during and after the recent protests, including those taken against medical staff following their professional obligations. We wish to see all reported serious violations of human rights credibly investigated, the immediate release, unless charged, of detained peaceful protestors and medical professionals who assisted the injured, access for independent observers to the ongoing legal proceedings, and a process of inclusive dialogue aimed at agreeing necessary political and economic reforms.
It is regrettable that, months after the protests began, the Bahraini government has yet to initiate any meaningful process of dialogue with the protestors. As I have stated previously, genuine dialogue and reform is crucial if Bahrain is to emerge from its current difficulties. I do welcome the announced intention by King Hamad to lift the state of emergency and hope that this takes place in accordance with the timetable set. I also welcome the King’s announcement that a national dialogue, without preconditions, will commence on 1 July and hope this call is fully supported and acted upon by all in Bahrain. Similar views are shared by many of our EU Partners and Ireland has been active in encouraging a clear articulation by the EU of its serious concern.
The EU formally raised the human rights situation, including the repressive actions taken against medical staff in Bahrain, with the Bahraini authorities in Manama on 15 May. Furthermore, the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 23 May discussed the situation in Bahrain and adopted strong Conclusions, which I fully support, calling for the fair and transparent administration of justice and access for independent observers to ongoing legal proceedings including in cases involving charges against medical professionals. The Council underlined the need for Bahrain to ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and its accountability regarding allegations of human rights violations including reported cases of torture and ill-treatment.
I would strongly urge the Bahraini government to pursue a different path and to allow its citizens to peacefully express grievances, start a genuine dialogue and implement political reforms. The positive examples of Tunisia and Egypt have demonstrated how receptive citizens can be when their genuine grievances are listened to and acted upon. I note that these grievances are not only felt by many of the majority Shia but also by some of the Sunni community who wish to have more political freedom and economic opportunities.
In relation to the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, its provision of overseas educational services on a commercial basis, including in Bahrain, is primarily an operational issue for the RCSI. In this regard, the relationship between the RCSI and the Government of Bahrain would be very much a matter for those parties themselves.
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