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Bahrain to sack 23 health workers over protests

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 11 Aug 2011 21:30 GMT
Author: Reuters
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DUBAI, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Bahrain's health ministry will sack 23 workers and temporarily re-instate 200 who were suspended during a crackdown on anti-government protests early this year, state news agency BNA said on Thursday.

Hundreds of public sector employees, some of them health workers, were fired when the Gulf kingdom crushed the protests led by the majority Shi'ite Muslim population, who were calling for more political freedom and an end to discrimination by the ruling Sunni minority.

Preliminary findings of the committees tasked with looking into "staff violations" indicate 23 health ministry workers will lose their jobs, a spokesman was quoted by BNA as saying. He put the total number facing investigation at 428.

Two hundred employees will return to work next week pending the results of the disciplinary committees' investigations, on top of 115 who were re-hired in June and July, he said.

Their re-instatement is conditional on their pledging to follow all public sector laws and regulations.

Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, has been criticised for its handling of the protests. Fellow Sunni Arab monarchies sent troops to help suppress them in March.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday it was "extremely concerned" about events in Bahrain and mentioned the country in a report on attacks against health care workers and hospitals.

Last month the offices of medical charity Doctors Without Borders were raided by armed security personnel who confiscated medical equipment and supplies.

"We are extremely concerned about what is going on in Bahrain. We are doing our utmost to ensure we have access not only to hospitals but to detention centres," ICRC director-general Yves Daccord told a news briefing in Geneva on Wednesday. (Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Isabel Coles; editing by Robert Woodward)

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