11 January 2019

Sudan: Doctors Strike Against Security Officers' Pursue of Injured Protestors in Hospital

Omdurman / River Nile — Government forces entered the Omdurman Teaching Hospital and fired live bullets and tear gas in their pursue of wounded protesters on Wednesday. Multiple human rights organisations have condemned the violent actions of the Sudanese regime against the widespread demonstrations in Sudan.

Images on social media show government forces entered the main hospital and shot live bullets, causing panic and chaos, Human Rights Watch and BBC reported. Tear gas flooded operating rooms in at least two hospitals, videos show, and doctors confirmed in interviews. One doctor saw security forces enter a hospital and beat doctors and patients inside. She said she heard them say "we don't care if you are doctors."

The security officers opened fire in the hospital court yard and then marched into the emergency and medical sections of the Omdurman Hospital roughing up both patients and doctors in their pursue of people seeking treatment after they sustained (gunshot) injuries during protests earlier that day, Amnesty International reported.

"This attack on a hospital is an outrageous violation of international law. Patients and doctors in Omdurman Hospital were attacked with tear gas and live bullets as Sudanese security forces ramped up their mission to suppress peaceful protests," said the human rights organisation's Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Sarah Jackson.

"There must be an urgent investigation into this horrific attack, and all officers involved must be held accountable. The Government of Sudan must also take immediate action to stop the practice of shooting protesters and respect the Sudanese people's right to freedom of expression."

Doctors issue condemning statement

The Sudanese Doctors' Central Committee, the Medical Syndicate and the Committee of Specialists and Consultants have condemned the intrusion of security apparatus personnel into Omdurman Teaching Hospital in the corridors of the hospital and intensive care rooms in a joint statement.

Security officers attacked patients and doctors at work to treat wounded protesters

They also condemned the attacks on doctors in the hospital and beating them, calling it an "utmost brutality and lack of decent morals" by the security officers.

Dr Wael Abdo, head of the Sudanese Doctors' Union which is based in Ireland, told Radio Dabanga in an interview that the medics continued to provide services to patients and injured people until late at night, before they stopped working after an increase of the attacks threatened the lives of patients and doctors.

The Sudan-based doctors' committee pointed out that several patients were evacuated from the hospital.

This sparked doctors working in the Omdurman Teaching Hospital and Mohamed El Amin Children's Hospital into starting a general open-ended strike starting Wednesday. The committee has conditioned lifting of the strike with the prosecution of the aggressors by, the release of a detained doctor, replacing the guards of the two hospitals with military police, and a written apology from the Interior Ministry and the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

'380 protests, more than 40 shot dead'

Since 19 December 2018 there have been more than 380 protests across Sudan against the high cost of living, during which more than 40 people have been killed. Authorities earlier reported that at least 22 people, including two security personnel, have been killed." More than 1,000 people have been arrested.

Radio Dabanga reported on Tuesday that one of the protesters who were shot in the December protests, 55-year-old Yasir El Sir, has been unable to undergo surgery for his gunshot wound because of his detention by the NISS. He had previously been banned by the security apparatus to travel abroad to seek special medical attention. Amnesty International has urgently called upon the Sudanese government for his release.

Strike

More doctors and pharmactists in Sudan joined the nationwide strike actions by their colleagues to condemn the violence against medical workers, rising medicine prices and the poor situation in hospitals.

On Wednesday, doctors of El Fasher Teaching Hospital in North Darfur announced that they would join the strike of their fellows in hospitals elsewhere in Sudan, after a dispute with the hospital administration. The strike concerns non-emergeny cases.

Calls by the Sudanese Professionals Association upon Sudanese workers to strike in order to demand the overthrow of the regime reached pharmacies in Atbara and Ed Damer in River Nile state.

On Thursday from 8am-3pm the pharmacies entered into a strike for emergency pharmacies and health insurance. Their strike was commended by the Central Pharmacists' Committee, which in return called for all pharmacists to join a partial strike on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-4pm.

The committee condemned the killing of demonstrators and the storming of the Omdurman Teaching Hospital by the security service on Wednesday, stressing its concerns that the escalation of violence has continued.

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