Syrians wounded during the ongoing uprising against their government risk torture and arrest when they seek medical attention, a new report from the international humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders says. Their doctors are also threatened.
Because the group is not authorized to work in Syria, Doctors Without Borders based its report on the statements of Syrian patients and physicians, who asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons. They say the Syrian government has persecuted people injured in protests and the doctors who treat them.
Here are some of the most striking testimonies, which could not be independently confirmed:
“A colleague of mine was caught with gauze in his car and he was sentenced on charges of running a field hospital. He was in prison for a month and was tortured.” -- Syrian doctor
“One scene I remember in particular was a man with his face hidden, crushing an injured person with his feet. … Judging by his uniform, he was an officer. At the end, the officer finished off the injured man.” –- elderly Syrian patient
“A majority of the nursing cadres in these [public] hospitals are pro-regime. For instance, they start saying in front of a patient they will amputate the leg because he is with the revolution. ... At other times, they decide to amputate believing that with these patients, it is not worth trying to help them or save their limbs.” -- surgeon who left Syria two months ago
“It should not have been the case that my hand needed to be cut off. Normally, even under the worst circumstances, they might remove a finger or just bandage the wound, but in this case, they cut it off from the wrist. ... They had everything there and they could have treated my hand. But they amputated it.” –- 23-year-old Syrian shot in the hand
“When we receive serious casualties, a patient who needs to be hospitalized, we have two options: Either we let him die, or we send him to the hospital not knowing what will become of him.” –- Syrian doctor
“When the militias enter into a neighborhood with a field hospital, they destroy it. They destroy the equipment, confiscate it, burn the medical products, such as the cotton and the gas. It was agony. The security services search and destroy the hospitals so that we have nothing left to treat the wounded. This is why the medical stations are mobile.” -- Syrian doctor
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Video: An elderly man testifies anonymously that a Syrian military officer "finished off" an injured person after stepping on him with his feet. Credit: Doctors Without Borders