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BMA condemns ill treatment of striking doctors in Sudan
By [unknown placeholder $article.art_field1$]
Jun 16, 2010 - 6:20:25 AM

From the British Medical Association and British Medical Journal:
 
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/340/jun16_1/c3225
 
 

Published 16 June 2010, doi:10.1136/bmj.c3225
Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c3225

News

BMA condemns ill treatment of striking doctors in Sudan

Peter Moszynski

1 London
 
The recent arrests of doctors’ leaders in Sudan and subsequent violent attacks on protestors calling for their release have caused widespread international condemnation.

 

Last week Amnesty International declared six doctors—arrested for their activities as members of a committee calling for better pay and working conditions—to be "prisoners of conscience" and warned that they are "at risk of torture or other ill treatment."

A BMA spokesman said that it will be writing to the Sudanese authorities "to express serious concerns about potential violations of the fundamental rights of doctors in the Sudan."

 

He said, "Sudanese doctors have been peacefully demonstrating in support of their basic employment rights, and the BMA is extremely worried about reports of maltreatment and summary arrest." He added that the BMA will be calling for the immediate release of the incarcerated doctors and seeking confirmation that any injured doctors will be given any medical attention they may need.

 

The UK and Ireland branch of the Sudanese Doctors Union, which continues to operate in exile since it was abolished after President Omar al Bashir’s seizure of power in a 1989 military coup, explained that doctors in Khartoum had been involved in an industrial dispute with the federal Ministry of Health. The dispute was initially resolved in March by a substantial pay offer and undertaking to suspend disciplinary action, after two months of intermittent partial stoppages.

 

When May’s wage packets failed to reflect the promised increase, doctors’ representatives planned a meeting on 2 June to decide how they should respond. However, the day before the planned meeting plain clothes security personnel arrested the head of the negotiating committee, Ahmed Alabwabi, who has been detained without charge since then.

 

Amnesty International says that another two of the committee’s members, Alhadi Bahkit and Walla Aldin, were also arrested on 1 June by officers of the National Intelligence and Security Services. The charity says, "The men were held for three hours, during which, according to sources in Sudan, they were severely beaten. Dr Alhadi Bahkit was rearrested shortly afterwards and has been detained without charge ever since. His family were able to visit him on 7 June. He apparently seems in poor health."

Amnesty says that on 2 June security agents attacked doctors and medical students from the University of Khartoum who were protesting against the detentions, "badly injuring several of them."

 

Four more doctors have since been arrested. Ashraf Hammad was reportedly arrested on 2 June, Mahmoud Khairallah on 6 June, Abdelaziz Ali Jamee on 7 June, and Ahmed Abdallah Khalafallah in the evening on 8 June. They have all been detained without charge since then.

 

At least eight doctors and medical students were severely injured during the clampdown on the protesters at Khartoum Teaching Hospital’s accommodation block, and a number of students were also briefly detained, while other committee members remain in hiding, say union representatives in exile.

 

Frank Donaghue, director of the US based group Physicians for Human Rights, said, "The harassment and arrest of Sudanese doctors and medical students in Khartoum violates the fundamental rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression and is yet another example of the disregard for the health and wellbeing of the people of Sudan by the authoritarian government of Omar el Bashir."

 

Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c3225



 
More information and videos of the suppression of protesting doctors is at www.sudaneseonline.com/en3/publish/Latest_News_1/Sudanese_police_round_up_doctors_who_called_for_strike_printer.shtml.




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