Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1284, (25 February - 2 March 2016))
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1284, (25 February - 2 March 2016))

Ahram Weekly

‘Dignity protest’

Doctors say they will continue with their partial protest and are demanding immediate legal action against the physical assault of two doctors at Al-Matariya Hospital, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

On 20 February, hundreds of doctors staged a one-hour strike in front of their hospitals demanding justice for the two doctors at Al-Matareya Hospital who were assaulted by police officers last month. The doctors had reportedly refused to issue the officers a forged medical report.

The strike was held in all of Egypt’s hospitals. Between 10 to 15 doctors protested at each hospital.

The aim of the nationwide demonstration was to call for rapid implementation of decisions taken at an emergency meeting last week, which included referring the policemen to a speedy trial.

The Doctors Syndicate staged a protest on the same day, calling its action the “Dignity Protest”, during which protesters condemned violations against doctors while on duty. In a statement issued by the syndicate, doctors called for a secure work environment and the drafting of legislation to impose heavy penalties on those who attack doctors.

The statement added that “justice is the cornerstone of stability” and stressed that no one is above the law. Protesters also called for the protection of hospital staff against mistreatment by police and security forces. “No serious action has been taken against the policemen. The prosecution released them on bail and, as far as we’re concerned, that’s nothing,” said Dr. Ahmed Hossam, who participated in the strike.

The Doctors Syndicate’s general assembly, formed earlier this month, called for a one-hour protest on the morning of 20 February before doctors started their workday to condemn the assaults against doctors on the job.

Syndicate board member Hani Mehanna said the main demand of doctors is for the two police officers to be tried immediately. This is in addition to safeguarding hospitals. Parliament should also consider a law that criminalises violations against doctors, Mehanna said.

“If there is no response to our protests, doctors will start another longer limited strike in all hospitals on 27 February and will only provide medical services to citizens in hospital receptions,” Mehanna said.

There is a possibility of striking, according to Mehanna, for half of each working day over several days, instead of just one hour for one day.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health Ahmed Emadeddin Radi said the ministry had made sure there would be no interruption of medical services provided to the public during the one-hour protest. Radi instructed hospitals not to suspend work and to hold the protests without disrupting the workflow.

During the Doctors Syndicate general assembly, the health minister was himself referred by the syndicate, following a popular vote, to the prosecutor-general for failing to safeguard the rights of doctors.

The Dentists Syndicate will schedule a general assembly on 4 March in solidarity with the Doctors Syndicate, a step that they say is free of political motives.

The dispute between the Doctors Syndicate and Ministry of Interior started in January when two police officers assaulted two doctors at Al-Matariya Hospital.

The syndicate had previously demanded an immediate trial for the attackers and an acceleration of the investigation. However, the only measure taken against police officers was suspending them from work until completion of the investigation.

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has said that he will introduce new laws to limit police abuse against citizens. He urged Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Gaffar to submit proposals to parliament on police accountability.

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