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article imageAmnesty claim Syrian protesters abused, tortured by hospitals

By Jane Fazackarley     Oct 26, 2011 in World
Syria - In March 2011, an uprising began in Syria, a movement that the government has tried to quell. The United Nations has called on Syrian authorities to "respect human rights" and said that all killings should be investigated.
Now, a new report published by human rights group Amnesty International claims that the Syrian government is using hospitals as another way to repress those who dare to speak out.
The 39 page report called “Health Crisis: Syrian Government Targets the Wounded and Health Workers” makes for grim reading as it explains how some of those injured in the uprising are being abused and assaulted in government-run hospitals and how some hospital staff are directly involved in their mistreatment.
Amnesty names four hospitals which it says were involved and states that patients have been assaulted by medical staff, health workers and security staff. One witness told Amnesty that he had seen four doctors and more than twenty nurses abusing one patient, according to the report.
Commenting on the Amnesty website, Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa researcher, Cilina Nasser, said:
"It is deeply alarming that the Syrian authorities seem to have given the security forces a free rein in hospitals and that in many cases hospital staff appear to have taken part in torture and ill treatment of the very people they are supposed to care for."
"Given the scale and seriousness of the injuries being sustained by people across the country, it is disturbing to find that many consider it safer to risk not having major wounds treated rather than going to proper medical facilities."
Among other things, the report asks for action to be taken against those involved and calls for:
"Any health professional or employee at hospitals and other health facilities who violates medical ethics by misusing their position to subject vulnerable individuals, including wounded patients, to verbal or physical abuse, torture or other ill-treatment" to be held accountable.
Amnesty also detail how government security forces in the Syrian city of Homs have physically obstructed ambulances which were trying to go to the aid of injured protesters or that were carrying the wounded to hospital. The human rights group also detail how aid workers from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent face violence and interrogation for trying to help the wounded.
One surgeon told Amnesty International of the assault they witnessed:
"In early April, I was among five doctors in the emergency room at the National Hospital in Homs as many cases were coming in with firearm injuries. Among them was a boy, aged around 15, injured in his foot. We, the doctors, were attending to more serious injuries as he waited on a bed… I remember hearing shrieks of pain, so I walked towards the voice and saw a male nurse hitting the boy hard on his injury and swearing at him as he poured surgical spirit on the injured foot in an act that clearly intended to cause the boy additional pain..."
The report describes a number of other incidents and explains that the wounded protesters are forced to seek medical attention at private hospitals which aren't adequately equipped to treat them. It also details the threats that medical personnel face for trying to help the wounded.
A protest organised by Amnesty is planned for October 29. Hundreds from the UK Syrian Community will march from Paddington Green to the Syrian Embassy in London.
More about Amnesty international, Syria, Syrian uprising, syria protests, syria news
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