UPDATE 8PM EDT: A number of leading human rights activists in Bahrain are being arrested right now. Hasan Mushaimea has been arrested and taken to an unknown location, Hassan Alhaddad, Ebrahim Sharif arrested as well.
As Bahraini forces continue their crackdown on the pro-democracy protesters, reports continue of the blockage of the main Manama hospital, Salmaniya.
Just a few hours ago, Dr. Reyad Alman, head of emergency services in a call to Al Jazeera English said that they were blocked from sending out ambulances for four hours during the initial crackdown and that when they were allowed to send one out, he was part of the staff in it. When they were ready to head out, the medical staff in the ambulance were dragged out and beaten severely – he himself has a fracture and one other team member was seriously injured. He also reported that the armed forces are in the hospital and have taken away about 20 of the injured to locations unknown.
AngryArabiya passes along this report:
I have a source in Salmaniya hospital, whoz asked not to be identified due to the dangerous situation they r in #bahrain #feb14
source: there r 7 cases requiring intensive care right now, the injuries r mostly gunshots & severe physical trauma #bahrain #feb14
source: we’re living in horrible situation, expectin they will come anytime, becuz we’ve heard that hospital adminz been transferred to bdf
source: I think there r many cases of injuries which the hospital cannot receive becuz we’re surrounded by police n army #bahrain #feb14
SMC source: I can go out of ward but not hospital, some nurses n docs went out n were attacked by police, we still dont know where they r!
SMC source: Most bahraini nurses including me r here since yesterday n the day be4.
SMC source: They’re letting Indian nurses go home after checkin their id cards but us Bahrainis, they deal with us differently. #bahrain
Al Jazeera English reports:
Abdul Mohamed, an eyewitness at Salmaniya Hospital, tells Al Jazeera through an interpreter:
We are besieged here since the morning. No one can get in or out of the hospital as a result of the conflict at the Roundabout. Bahraini army, police and Saudi security are using tanks to prevent people from entering. There are also other forces I cannot identify in civilian clothing … There is a large number of injured, over 400 people, including women and children.
Bahrain’s government has said security forces have secured central areas of the city, including Manama’s largest hospital. But Dr Nehad Shirawi, the head of the Intensive Care Unit at Salmaniya Hospital, tells Al Jazeera that doctors there feel anything but safe, with a large security force contingent in the parking lot:
We are scared to get out of the hospital. We don’t think its safe to go out and we don’t know what to do … We are phyiscally and mentally exhausted and I don’t think we’ll be able to continue to attend to patients in this way. We need to be replaced by other doctors so we can go home and rest.
Abdullah Al Derazi, secretary-general of the Bahrain Human Rights Society, …adds: “Eyewitnesses have called us saying that security forces entered the hospital and took 20 injured people to an undisclosed location, and we don’t know where they are now”.
And reports that:
In the aftermath of this morning’s crackdown, Bahrain’s new Shia health minister, Nizar Baharna, resigned after security forces stormed into Manama’s largest hospital complex. Twelve Shia judges also stepped down today to protest “excessive use of force” by police.
SALMANIYA HOSPITAL IS STILL UNDER SIEGE.. FOOD AND SUPPLIES ARE RUNNING SHORT.. #sos #humanrights #bahrain #lulu”
And from Amnesty International:
Amnesty International also received testimonies from medical staff who were prevented from treating the victims of violence.
“We are waiting to do something and the army is not allowing us. We know there are hundreds injured and they are not allowing them to come here,” said one doctor at the central Salmaniya hospital who did not wish to be named due to safety fears.
“A doctor went to the gate this morning trying to come in and the army beat him. They also threw tear gas and another type of gas at the emergency entrance of the hospital.”
Another doctor said he was afraid of going to work because he heard of colleagues being attacked trying to reach the hospital.
“Hundreds of doctors and nurses are willing to provide services but they are stuck in their houses and do not know what to do, they are afraid of leaving their houses in case they are shot,” the doctor told Amnesty International.??”The Salmaniya hospital is surrounded by the army. Injured people have instead been brought to small health centres that can’t really provide optimal medical care and can’t deal with these injuries.”
In the nearby town of Sitra, a local resident told Amnesty International that she was afraid to go outside.
“We can’t go out because the army is everywhere. They are throwing tear gas in the street. If anyone leaves their house, the army shoot at them,” she said.
Reports of attacks on residents of local villages like Sitra continue. The video above is from Sitra while here is another video of armed forces moving in Alqadam.
Bahraini officials are clearly frightened that their happy talk cover-up at home will be contradicted by international reporters.
Amongst those being kept out of Bahrain are BBC Arabic’s Dima Hamden, Al Hurra’s Hussain Jamal and Omar Chatriwala, a correspondent for the Qatar News was refused entry with the words:
Bahrain immigration officers ask me to accept their apology for denying me entry to the country, but say “it will be fine in 2 to 3 days”.
While Mohammed Jamjoon of CNN was forced to leave Bahrain by Ministry of Information authorities.
Perhaps his reporting – seen above – was a bit too factual?
Bahrain Human Rights is reporting that a CBS reporter has been deported and Evan Hill of Al Jazeera tweeted that:
Bahraini soldiers arrest my friend, Doha-based WSJ reporter Alex Delmar-Morgan, near Pearl Roundabout. http://ow.ly/4fWje
(The photo linked here is believed to show his arrest.)
Washington’s response to all of this? Jay Carney assured us at the press briefing that President Obama had called King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia and King Hamad in Bahrain.
In case that is not reasuring enough for you, read Nick Turse’s report today on how our tax dollars buy the helicopters and bullets being used right now against the pro-democracy activists of Bahrain:
According to data from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the branch of the government that coordinates sales and transfers of military equipment to allies, the US has sent Bahrain dozens of “excess” American tanks, armored personnel carriers, and helicopter gunships. The US has also given the Bahrain Defense Force thousands of .38 caliber pistols and millions of rounds of ammunition, from large-caliber cannon shells to bullets for handguns. To take one example, the US supplied Bahrain with enough .50 caliber rounds—used in sniper rifles and machine guns—to kill every Bahraini in the kingdom four times over. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency did not respond to repeated requests for information and clarification.
In addition to all these gifts of weaponry, ammunition, and fighting vehicles, the Pentagon in coordination with the State Department oversaw Bahrain’s purchase of more than $386 million in defense items and services from 2007 to 2009, the last three years on record. These deals included the purchase of a wide range of items from vehicles to weapons systems. Just this past summer, to cite one example, the Pentagon announced a multimillion-dollar contract with Sikorsky Aircraft to customize nine Black Hawk helicopters for Bahrain’s Defense Force.