Tuesday Oct 04, 201108:32 AM GMT
'Intl. community must stop Bahrain'
Mon Oct 3, 2011 7:35PM
An exclusive interview with David Benton, International Council of Nurses
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A prominent political activist says that the international community must put pressure on the Bahraini king to stop putting citizens in military court, particularly doctors and nurses.


In an exclusive interview with Press TV, David Benton, International Council of Nurses, elaborates on the crisis underway in Bahrain and the Saudi-backed government continues its crackdown on civilians.

Press TV: Why do you not tell us what you represent and your activities?

Benton: The International Council of Nurses was formed in 1899 and we represent 135 national nursing associations around the world. It is our role to speak as one voice in the world and to advance the profession of nursing.

Press TV: We want to talk about these sentences that have been handed down to the medical staff. Before we get your reaction to that, the so-called “military civilian court” what do you think about these sentences that have been handed down, some of them taken 10 minutes to be handed down these harsh sentences.

Benton: Well, the sentences in relation to nurses and doctors, the twenty that is involved, took only 7 minutes to actually hand in the sentences. The people that have been accused were not even present.

It is completely unacceptable that nurses and doctors should be treated in this way. They have a moral and ethical duty to treat everyone that comes into the hospital irrespective of their color, irrespective of their political affiliation. Someone that comes in need needs to be treated and that is their responsibility.

Press TV: When these sentences were handed down, of course, there has been criticism on that. Most noticeably, I could talk about the UN in which the Bahrain's king was there and he made a speech. We also had the US making a speech in the US, recently. What can be done in this case in point, in your capacity, explain if anything can be.

Benton: Well, the first thing that should be recognized is that nurse around the world are absolutely horrified at the situation because they see it as a dangerous precedent. We have a duty to care for people. And that duty should not be interfered by any government.

So, we see this as something we need to act in unison on. The Council of National Representatives when we met in Malta asked the ICN headquarters to petition the Bahraini government and we did so, and we sought the release of the detainees, as they were, in that stage. And we were to a degree successful.

We are now, on the result of the outcome of the trial, asked the member association to petition the governments to bring international pressure onto the Bahraini regime to make sure that this position is overturned.

Press TV: Why don't you tell us about Bahrain's nursing association. We understand that you've had some correspondents with her and that she's been sentenced to 15 years in jail?

Benton: Nurse Elsevier is one of the nurses that has been detained. Why should she receive a 15 year sentence? We've been in contact with the Ministry of Health to try and ascertain why someone was doing their job should receive such harsh treatment.

Press TV: In terms of the international pressure, there have been requests and criticisms made from international rights groups and even the UN, Ban Ki Moon has even come out questioning the virility of these, of course. But beyond that, what can these pressures do? Pressure, on one side of the coin, we're talking about princes and princesses being involved in the torture. On one piece of news, the Khalifa is involved in torture of the medics that included doctors and nurses. How can they be involved in a regime like that?

Benton: Irrespective of who's involved in this, this is completely unacceptable. The international community must continue to bring pressure to bear on this to petition the king to overturn this ruling. These are civilians that have been tried in a military court. They didn't have the opportunity, this, in terms of a process is flawed.

Press TV: Do you think that there should be pressure, since we're talking about that, to be exerted on respected governments by certain countries, like the governments of the United States or the United Kingdom which some say can have influence on this matter but are not doing enough?

Benton: We are certainly, through our member associations, encouraging all our member associations including the United Kingdom and the United States to petition their governments. This is an important issue, as I said. It sets a dangerous precedent and we must act now to protect the fundamental ability of doctors and nurses to deliver care to those in need.

MSK/GMA/JR
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