“My Only Crime Was That I Was a Doctor”, How the Syrian Government Targets Health Workers for Arrest, Detention, and Torture [EN/AR]

Report
from Physicians for Human Rights
Published on 04 Dec 2019 View Original
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Introduction

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has – through a rigorous methodology, that includes English and Arabic open-source research and field source corroboration – verified and mapped attacks on medical facilities and medical personnel by all parties to the conflict since 2011.10 By early September 2019, combatants had inflicted 583 attacks on at least 350 medical facilities.11 By PHR’s assessment, the Syrian government and its allies are responsible for 90 percent of those attacks.12 The systematic targeting of health facilities and health workers has been a crucial component of a wider strategy of war employed by the Syrian government and its allies to force civilian populations into submission.13 Through its purposeful assault on health, the Syrian government and its allies have systematically denied access to medical care in areas outside of their immediate control and actively persecuted health workers who, in line with their professional ethics, provide such care to perceived opposition supporters.14 The Syrian government has intentionally targeted Syrian health workers providing nondiscriminatory health care as enemies of the state. It has explicitly equated health workers who provide nondiscriminatory care with “terrorists”15 who can and should be detained, tortured, and killed.16 Through in-depth qualitative interviews with 21 formerly detained health workers, the following report provides evidence of the link between their arrest, imprisonment, and ill-treatment and their engagement in the medical field.