News / Middle East

Syrian Doctors Accuse Government of War Crimes

TEXT SIZE - +

The crisis in Syria worsens.  The United Nations says violence surrounding anti-government uprisings there left at least 5,400 people dead last year, and the death toll is rising. A group of Syrian physicians now in the United States accuses the government of interfering with the medical care of protestors. 

Bomb blasts and attacks rock Syrian cities.  Thousands are dead.  Thousands more are wounded.

Amateur video posted on YouTube shows patients getting treated. But not at a regular Syrian hospital -- at makeshift trauma centers like these, secretly and hastily arranged in houses, even in alleys.

These Syrian physicians, meeting in Washington, say medical treatment for anti-government protesters has gone underground because the regular hospitals are unsafe.

"We lost last week two people carrying medicine.  They killed them.  Just carrying medicine inside,” Yazji said.

The doctors are all practicing in the United States.

They say Syrian hospitals, ambulances and medical personnel are under government surveillance.  

Dr. Mohammad Kousha says he had planned to treat protesters in Latakia, until government forces detained him -- and a colleague -- for four days.

"They arrested us.  Took us into jail, and we stayed there.  We were assaulted, and we were tortured and due to lack of evidence fortunately, we were released,” Kousha said.  

These doctors say there is no way to separate politics from medical relief, as long as Syrian security forces threaten their work.  They say the attacks are a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

“They are war crimes committed in Syria, by the Syrian regime,” said. Dr. Zaher Sahloul with the Syrian American Medical Society.

"What we’re asking now is an immediate cease-fire and allowing convoys of medical personnel and equipment to enter, especially in Homs," said. Dr. Hisham Naji, a Syrian physician.

Witnesses say for nearly two weeks the Syrian government has shelled Homs -- a rebel stronghold.  The Syrian Embassy in Washington did not respond to VOA's request for an interview or comment.

The Syrian government blames armed terrorists for 11 months of violence against President Bashar al-Assad's autocratic rule.

Protocol added to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 relating to the protection of victims of international armed conflicts says:-

. All wounded and sick shall be respected and protected.
. They shall be treated humanely and receive medical care and attention required by their condition.
. The physical or mental health and integrity of persons interned, detained or otherwise deprived of liberty by any party shall not be endangered by any unjustified act or omission.
. Medical units shall be respected and protected at all times and shall not be the object of attack.



Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an award-winning television reporter who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.  She has won an Emmy, many Associated Press awards, and a Clarion for her coverage of Haiti,  national politics, the southern economy, and the 9/11 bombing anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Syrian medical crisis and the Asiana plane crash, and was VOA’s chief reporter from the Boston Marathon bombing.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid