Friday, December 09, 2005

Iraqi Doctors Beaten and Arrested in Haditha Hospital
Sabah Ali (30/10/2005)

Dr. Walid Al-Obeidi, the director of Haditha General Hospital and Dr. Jamil Abdul Jabbar, the only surgeon in the Haditha area were arrested for a week, very badly beaten and threatened to face the same treatment in the future by the American troops.

Dr.Walid said “they arrested me in my house in front of my family, covered my eyes, and tied my hands to the back on Oct 5 2005 morning, during the last attack on Haditha (360 kilometers west of Baghdad). They occupied the hospital for 8 days and made it their office. The first day they beat me on my eyes, nose, back, hands, legs... My face was covered with blood .When they removed the tie I could not see. They investigated me until the afternoon. I realized later that I was arrested in the hospital store. Then they tied my hands to the front, and left me for two days. I was moved then to the pharmacy department. They accused me of treating terrorists, and asked for their names.

I told them that I treat patients regardless of their identity, according to my oath as a doctor; even if they were national guards (which we actually I did) or American soldiers. And any way, if I do not want to treat the insurgents, I have no choice, because they were armed and masked. I would do anything they tell to do. Few days later, one of the soldiers came in the room, did not say anything, kicked me again on my face and left”.

Dr. Jamil, a surgeon for 20 years, was arrested and very badly beaten. When we met him, 22 days later, his face was still blue. His nose was broken, and a big opening in his head: “They beat me on my eyes and nose, kicked me with boots under my chin. One of them threatened me if I do not talk after he counts to three, he would shoot me. He began counting, after three he turned the gun upside down and hit me on the back of my head. For days I could not move or see. They threatened us of abusing our families. For some reason they took my picture while I was bleeding, I could hear the camera click”.

Both doctors were threatened if they do not talk, they would receive the same treatment in the future. They were warned of passing any information of the arrest to the media. They were asked who wrote the hostile slogans against the American on the opposite wall of the hospital? What are the names of the insurgents they treated? and what are the bodies’ pictures in the hospital computer?

Dr.Walid said he does not know who wrote on the wall outside the hospital, what the names of the insurgents are, because they were masked. He explained that the dead bodies’ pictures were of unknown people whose bodies were found after the fighting. “We can not keep these bodies forever; we do not have enough cold boxes. So, after two months, we take their pictures and bury them, so that whenever some one from their families comes to ask we show the pictures of the dead bodies”.

The UN, the international HR organizations, WHO, Doctors sans frontiers…and all who it may concern are called upon to do some thing to help these, and other Iraqi doctors, and to prevent similar treatment in the future. Dr.Walid and Dr. Jamil believe that they may face the arrest and beating in the future. They demand that the American troops stop occupying the hospital and destroying it every time the attack Haditha. They also believe that the Iraqi authorities are incapable of protecting them.

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