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Bahrain doctor: If US loses the faith of people like me, it loses the Mideast

Washington’s tepid response to Bahrain's crackdown on nonviolent protesters has forced me to question what America really stands for. Obama must tell the ruling family to stop attacking protesters and to drop sham charges against medics like me and hundreds of others.

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A Bahraini man looks at an image of jailed hunger striker Abdulhadi al-Khawaja painted on a wall in Barbar, Bahrain. A Bahrain appeals court has ordered the reexamination of his case and 20 others. Op-ed contributor and Bahraini medical doctor Nada Dhaif was arrested and tried for providing medical care to injured protesters last spring. She says: 'The United States government should get on the right side of this struggle.'

Hasan Jamali/AP

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With the news that there will be a “retrial” for Bahraini hunger striker Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and 20 other protesters arrested for taking part in the uprising in Bahrain last year, I fear that the legal process is still being used to deliberately deny justice. My own trial proves Bahrain continues to violate the rights of its people.

I’m an accidental activist who was back in court just days ago, and am awaiting another appearance next week in the appeal of my military court conviction. The Bahrain authorities are still pressing charges against me and 19 other medics.

They say we were involved in occupying the main hospital in the capital city of Manama, trying to overthrow the regime by force, and smuggling weapons. In fact, what we did was treat injured protesters. Some of us told the international media the truth about what was happening, a truth the government was trying to hide.

Bahrain is ruled by a monarchy – the king’s uncle has been the unelected prime minister for the last 41 years. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa can change the Constitution when and as he wants to.

In February 2011, I joined the thousands of people at the Pearl Roundabout in the heart of Manama where the protests for democracy began, volunteering at a medical tent to treat people who needed medical attention. The government soon turned on the protesters and on us, the medics who treated them.

A month later, my life changed suddenly, and forever.

On March 19, armed and masked security forces broke into my home in the middle of the night and took me away. I was the first woman arrested in the crackdown. For 22 days, I was held in solitary confinement and subjected to verbal abuse and torture, including electrocution. In all, I was detained for two months.

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