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Leaked Report Reveals Egyptian Army Doctors 'Operated on Protesters without Anesthetic'

Jon Queally, staff writer

The latest revelations from a leaked government review of abusive behavior by the Egyptian Army during public demonstrations last year show that military doctors were ordered to withhold anesthetic from wounded protesters they were treating.

As The Guardian reports, the findings are the latest leaked to the paper from "a suppressed report investigating human rights abuses in Egypt since the start of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak."

Leaks from the same internal report released earlier this week alleged that the military were much more involved in torture, killings and forced disappearances during the uprising than available evidence suggested.

From The Guardian:

The new chapter contains testimony from doctors and protesters about the treatment of injured demonstrators at the Kobri el-Qoba military hospital in Cairo in May 2012.

It alleges that a senior military doctor ordered subordinates to operate on wounded protesters without anesthetic or sterilization and reports that doctors, nurses and senior officers also beat some of the wounded protesters. It also claims that a senior officer ordered soldiers to lock protesters in a basement.

The chapter concludes by recommending an investigation into the highest echelons of the army leadership – a deeply significant development. Even though the report has not been officially published, its status as a presidential document – coupled with the extent of its conclusions – represents the first acknowledgment by the state of the scale of the atrocities both during and since the 2011 uprising.

Segments of the report also showed that high level officials sanctioned the firing of live ammunition during recent public unrest in the canal cities of Suez.

The content of the report, said Egypt director for Human Rights Watch Heba Morayef, "is incredibly important because it contains internal orders from the ministry of the interior." 

Referring to the treatment of protesters by Army doctors, Morayef said the new information confirms what the Army had long denied. "Until today, there has been no official state acknowledgement of excessive force on the part of the police or military. The army always said they took the side of protesters and never fired a bullet against them. This report is the first time that there has been any official condemnation of the military's responsibility for torture, killing, or disappearances."

One Egyptian human rights campaigner said to the Guardian that, if true, the military's actions were comparable to war crimes.

"The findings that people were tortured in a military hospital and that senior military doctors ordered subordinates to operate without anesthetic are more than just shocking," said Karim Ennarah, a researcher on policing and criminal justice at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. "If this happened in the context of war, against prisoners of war, this would be a war crime. It's a serious violation of the most basic medical ethics in any context, let alone in the context of a demonstration where the military were facing citizens from their own country."

Read the Guardian's exclusive coverage of the leaked documents here, here, and here.


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