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Doctors have been physically prevented from giving life-saving care to patients.
Also on April 22, a 13-year-old boy from the Damascus suburb of Maadamiyeh died from a gunshot wound, said a local doctor, after secret police beat his father as he tried to get his son to hospital in neighboring Daraya.
The doctor has since begun treating injured residents of Maadamiya in private homes, without anything like adequate medicine.
“No one from Maadamiya wants to take their wounded to hospital. Security is arresting wounded protesters and taking them to security branches and we don’t know where they are,” said the doctor.
“I try to help with simple tools, but I can’t do big surgeries. I can stop the bleeding and sew wounds, but not more. The army has many checkpoints around Maadamiya and they don’t allow anyone to get even some antibiotics here.”
“Security entered the hospital”
On the same Friday Fawaz died, a young nurse on duty in the emergency ward of a hospital in Duma, a town 15 kilometers northeast of Damascus, described a raid on the hospital by the secret police.
“I was in the hospital between eight and nine in the evening when about 20 security men with Kalashnikovs entered the hospital and asked reception to give them the names of all patients submitted that day,” said the nurse, speaking on condition her identity and the name of the hospital not be revealed.
“We were afraid of them. They asked us to bring them all the wounded, not those who were just normally ill.”
The doctors and nurses were made to escort all 30 injured protesters, some of them carried on stretchers, from their beds to the police vehicles.
“I remember a teenager who was injured in his arm. He was exhausted, but they put him in a car anyway and he was crying from the pain. But I couldn’t do anything for him,” said the nurse. “They told us they were taking them to the military and police hospitals to treat them under their observation.”
Residents of Duma had earlier formed a human shield around the gates of the private-run Hamdan Hospital, trying to prevent a similar secret police raid.
“This is the last way we have to protect our wounded from being kidnapped by the secret police,” said a man who took part in the human shield, which he said broke up after security forces fired on it and then arrested several injured patients.
Three days later, on April 25, three doctors from the Hamdan hospital were arrested by the secret police.
A week after Fawaz died, residents of Homs also stood watch around the Al-Barr private hospital.
“They prevent patients from being taken to hospital,” said a doctor directly involved in treating patients under the custody of the secret police. “It is something horrible. We feel hate toward this security regime.”
Treated or tortured?
Injured protesters in the custody of security forces also stand less chance of receiving adequate medical care, according to testimony from doctors and human rights researchers.
“When we were treating patients from the protests the mukhaberrat said to us, ‘You don’t have to take care for these people, you have to care for the injured security men,’” said the doctor who treated patients in police custody.
“As doctors we have our priorities, but the mukhaberrat don’t accept our priorities. It’s not like they say, ‘We will kill you if you care for the patients,’ but the doctors cannot say no to them. They are very afraid.”
Insan documented the case of Hussein Moutaz Issa, 23, who died in police custody after being arrested with a gunshot wound left untreated.
Issa was shot in his right shoulder by security forces while trying to escape door to door raids on homes in Madaya, 40 kilometers northwest of Damascus, on April 28. He made it to a neighbor’s house where several eyewitnesses, one of them with a medical background, told Insan they managed to stop the bleeding and the wound appeared non-fatal.
But later that night Issa was arrested and died in police custody, his body left at the main regional hospital in Zabadani. According to a doctor from the hospital who spoke to Insan, Issa had bled to death after receiving no medical attention.
“He was left without medical attention and bled to death,” said the doctor. “This is homicide. I saw the body myself. This young man was not offered any medical attention.”
Even more disturbingly, like Murshed and countless other Syrians held by the secret police, the body showed marks of torture.
“It seems that after he was captured he was severely beaten,” said the doctor. “He was not even left to die in peace.”