With the Continued Attacks on Field and Public Hospitals and their Medical Crew and Assaults on Injured Civilians: The EIPR Calls for Firm Action be Taken to Prevent the Recurrence of Such Attacks

Press Release

9 May 2012

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) condemns the continued violation of the basic principles of medical neutrality by security forces, and the denial of medical treatment for those injured and wounded, during the dispersal of the Abbasiya sit-in by force on Friday, May 4, 2012.

The EIPR condemns the repeated practices by army forces and the military police deliberately targeting makeshift field hospitals despite the clear signs marking these stations as medical units that provide emergency medical care and humanitarian relief.  That in addition to confiscating medical supplies in these stations and attacking providers of medical service, even after the announcement of their identities as neutral medical workers, and the detention of some of these medical workers—in a new violation of all acceptable international norms.

During the events of 4 May, the military police arrested 8 medical doctors and students, including Salah Shaarawy, Aya Kamal and Ahmed El-Khouly and brought them before the military prosecutor. A number of injured protesters were also detained by the armed forces while seeking treatment at the Ain Shams Hospital on Friday afternoon.

The state police has also failed to perform its duty to secure and protect public hospitals following the attack by un-identified individuals on the sit-in on Wednesday, 2 May, as the unknown offenders chased and continued the attacks on the injured inside the hospitals, putting the lives of the medical workers of the Demerdash, Dar El-Shifah and Ain Shams Hospitals at risk, and preventing them from providing the necessary treatment for the injured.

The EIPR affirms that these incidents are not the first of such attacks as the Egyptian security apparatuses have committed grave breaches against the neutral status of medical facilities and personnel since the beginning of the revolution of 25 January.  The EIPR has since documented through its field investigations numerous breaches by security forces ranging from pursuing wounded protestors at hospitals to  issuing orders to prevent their treatment by doctors, falsifying evidence and medical reports  and the interference with ambulance operations or using them for other purposes. Field hospitals that had been set up to provide medical care during major protests have repeatedly been raided by security forces, and their supplies seized or destroyed, and there were incidents where medical personnel were detained or abducted and subjected to physical violence.

The EIPR regrets the involvement of security forces in such heinous acts, and affirms that such violations must not be committed even in cases of wars and armed conflict during which warring parties must respect the right of the wounded from both sides to receive medical care. That the Egyptian security forces committed such violations against their own citizens adds to the gravity of the situation.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights calls on human rights organizations and institutions concerned with the right to health and medical and pharmacists' associations to support the efforts of the EIPR urging the Egyptian government, represented by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense, by sending them letters/faxes demanding that direct orders are issued to officers and soldiers to refrain from obstructing the full access to treatment of wounded civilians and to respect medical establishments and facilities, ambulance operations and medical personnel. Security forces must be alerted that their duty is to facilitate the work of humanitarian operations not to impede them.  Punishing protesters by impeding their access to medical treatment and medical personnel for providing it is an outrageous act that no party should be involved in. The People's Assembly is urged to to identify and hold accountable those responsible for endangering the lives of citizens and denying them their right to health and humanitarian relief.