In Times Like These, Poetry Is a Road to a Bahraini Jail

Bahraini poet Ayat al-Qarmezi. © Private

In this season of uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa, governments consider even poetry subversive.  Now a young Bahraini student is looking at a year in jail for reading a poem criticizing the Bahraini king.

Ayat al-Qarmezi, 20, a poet and student was convicted by a military court after an unfair trial. She was charged with taking part in illegal protests, disrupting public security and publicly inciting hatred toward the regime. She was arrested in March for reading out a poem at a pro-reform rally in the capital Manama.

The poem’s lyrics include the lines:

“We are the people who will kill humiliation and assassinate misery/ Don’t you hear their cries, don’t you hear their screams?”

She was forced to turn herself in to the authorities on March 30 after masked police raided her parents’ house repeatedly and reportedly threatened to kill her brothers unless she did so.


Bahrain Security Forces Go After Doctors, Nurses

When demonstrations broke out in Bahrian urging political reform, first the government’ s security forces went after protesters.  Then they went after the doctors, nurses and other health professionals who treated the injured protesters.

Now they’re going after the health professionals who are speaking out against the security forces’ actions.

Even to long-time observers of Middle East human rights issues, the attacks on health professionals to prevent them from treating injured patients is surprising, a sign of the extent to which the governments are willing to respond to the Arab Spring by going after even the most fundamental of rights.


Docs Won’t Help Ohio Kill

Health professionals confirm death in 1998 Guatemala execution. (c) Jorge Uzon

Health professionals confirm death in 1998 Guatemala execution. (c) Jorge Uzon

Ohio’s botched and failed execution of Romell Broom, which has led to the postponement of all the Buckeye State’s execution plans – at least for this year – has created another problem for the state.  It seems that when you are doing something morally repugnant, like putting a human being to death with lethal chemicals, those with ethics don’t want to help you.  So, as Ohio looks for ways to improve its ability to kill prisoners without embarrassing mishaps, it is not surprising that they are having a hard time finding a respectable member of the medical profession who is willing to help them.  Killing someone, it seems, is somewhat of a violation of the whole “do no harm” code of ethics to which health professionals are bound.

According to an AP report, on Friday, Ohio’s Attorney General Richard Cordray filed a brief with a federal District Court explaining that “ethical and professional considerations are deterring doctors and others from offering advice about lethal injection.”

Apparently, due to this difficulty, Ohio now has judges, police and lawmakers helping to find some medical professionals who are willing to take their ethical obligations less seriously and give the state the help it needs to resume killing.

Meanwhile, there is nothing to prevent us from continuing to offer our own – albeit unsolicited – advice, that the best way for Ohio to avoid these moral quandaries it to simply stop executions.