CAIRO: The Doctors’ Syndicate will file an official complaint to the Prosecutor General against those behind attacks on doctors who were treating protesters during the Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Cabinet clashes, which led to the death of volunteer doctor Alaa Abdel Hady last week.
In a press conference on Sunday, member of the board of the Doctors’ Syndicate Mona Mina said that attacking physicians in the battlefield is considered “a war crime”.
Many eyewitnesses said that physicians were attacked intentionally.
“We do not have a political stance with or against anyone; we just treat patients whether they are thugs, protesters or soldiers. If there is a doctor who has a political ideology then it’s an individual issue,” said Ahmed Eman Salem, one of the eyewitnesses.
Mina said that there were three tents belonging to the syndicate inside the Tahrir roundabout which were clearly labeled “Doctors’ Syndicate”. Yet they were burnt down along with all the medical supplies stocked inside when security violently dispersed the sit-in.
“In many cases the doctors who were individually attacked mentioned that they were physicians, but soldiers intentionally beat and detained them,” said Mina.
She added that apart from Dr. Alaa Abdel Hady who died, there was another medical student, Ahmed Ragab, who is now hospitalized in Al-Helal Hospital and is being treated for a gunshot wound that entered through his back to exit from his stomach.
Amr Salah, a doctor who was present in Tahrir Square during the cabinet clashes ,said that he told the soldiers that he was a physician who was just treating protesters in the makeshift hospital when they attacked him with a baton on his head.
“They accused me of treating thugs, which, according to them, gave them the right to attack me,” Ragab said.
Dr. Karim Mohamed Abdel Alim said he was taken from the makeshift hospital located in front of the Qasr Al-Aini Co-op petrol station and detained inside the parliament building.
“They were kicking, beating and insulting me. They told me that because I am a doctor I will be beaten intensively. They electrocuted me with a taser on my right hand and forced me, along with the rest to drink muddy water,” said Abdel Alim.
“This is against Islam, humanity and even military ethics,” he added.
Other physicians recounted other methods of torture they were subject to while under detention, adding that their plight pales in comparison with what other detainees went through.
“I personally believe that those were mercenaries; that cannot be part of our honorable army,” said Dr. Ahmed Hussein who was kidnapped twice.
All doctors who spoke during the press conference said that live ammunition was shot at protesters despite assurances by army officials that no live bullets will be used against any Egyptian.
Dr. Mohamed Abu Geba, who manned one of the makeshift clinics during the recent crackdown, said that even the teargas that was used was different.
“Patients used to faint, cough blood and suffer seizures after regaining consciousness, which is abnormal,” Abu Geba said.
He claimed that he witnessed cases were patients died of live ammunition or gas poisoning.
Preliminary reports by the official coroner have confirmed that 14 of the recent 17 deaths recorded during the Cabinet clashes were caused by gunshot wounds.
According to Abu Geba, exposing these crimes against protesters is what instigated the violence against medical crews despite the fact that they were clearly identified.
“These attacks on doctors were organized. I heard a soldier who confirmed to his boss that we [doctors] were inside the makeshift hospital in Omar Makram Mosque. They banged on the doors of the mosque three different times. We had to switch off all the lights and lay on the ground to conceal that we were inside,” Dr. Mamdouh El-Sherbiny said.
Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim said that along with other physicians, he has been receiving telephone threats from private numbers to intimidate him from getting in contact with protesters.
“They call and tell us that if we don’t keep away from politics, they will kill our families. Who is going to protect us?” Ibrahim asked.