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August 18, 2016

Bahrain Detains Leading Neurosurgeon

UPDATE: at 7pm on August 23rd Bahraini authorities released Dr. Alderazi from detention. His next hearing date will be on Monday, August 29th.

By Jude Ali

Neurosurgeon Dr. Taha Alderazi was due to perform an operation on Tuesday, but instead he was in Bahrain’s Dry Dock prison. He is charged with taking part in an illegal gathering, a charge often brought by the authorities against political opponents and activists in the government’s ongoing targeting of dissidents.

The 65-year-old doctor has been practicing medicine since 1980. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He did his advanced training in Dublin, Glasgow, and London in the late 1990s. He also was the former secretary of the Bahrain Weightlifting and Bodybuilding Association in the 1980s. 

In Bahrain he is known for being the first to introduce 3D technology in brain surgery in the country and for his role treating victims of the government’s crackdown on widespread democracy protests in 2011.

After treating injured protestors in the main government hospital, the Salmaniya Medical Complex, he was called for interrogation and suspended from his job without any official charge against him, then forced into early retirement.

The Bahrain government has called Dr. Alderazi in for questioning before, and  prevented him from travelling to the United Kingdom in June this year, but this is the first time he has been charged.

The attacks on those perceived to be critics of the government are intensifying. On Monday a group of United Nations human rights independent experts criticized the recent wave of arrests, detentions, interrogations, and criminal charges intended to restrict the freedom of expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and freedom of religion or belief.

Also on Monday  U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein tweeted concern about the charges brought against Dr. Alderazi and against leading interfaith cleric Maytham Al Salman. The U.S. government should speak out on behalf of both these men and call for the charges against them to be dropped.