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On Medical Neutrality and Violations of it in Libya

Caustic Logic

June 28, 2012

<< Abu Salim Hospital Massacre {Masterlist}

Note: I've been busy with other things and neglecting this site and related research. First I was focused on the big report, the CIWCL site, and a press release. Now I'm doing some work on Syria, which is starting to take shape here (news coming). But I want to keep this at least moving towards a full report on the hospital massacre(s). Another step is to explore a central concept and related side-issues that will help set the context of the report.

Neutrality in Context and its Guardians, PHR
Medical Neutrality, as a concept, seems to have independent roots in numerous cultures stretching back in some cases to ancient times, but taking a more codified and formal aspect in recent decades. The basic idea is that there's no need to brutalize people who are captured or injured and thus no threat to you, nor to interfere with medical professionals doing that treating, even if the patients are your enemies. Most people would instinctively respect this basic level of decency, but we know there are wicked people in the world who'd use such vulnerability to their advantage in destroying an enemy totally. So that's why new rules to protect the medical process were built into the Geneva conventions and the foundation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent, and guarded by human rights people.

The field of vigilance in this particular area seems to be dominated by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), based in Cambridge, Massachusetts,  USA. Their page on medical neutrality and persecution of health workers is the top page in a Google search for "medical neutrality," with the Wikipedia article close behind. PHR lobbies for punishment of those who interfere with medical work, and also lobbying for release of jailed doctors accused of non-medical acts like "working with an enemy government" or fomenting insurrection (see here).

PHR on Violation in Libya
PHR addressed the issue in Libya during the uprising/war thing we helped with last year.
"Witness to War Crimes: Evidence from Misrata, Libya," released only on August 30, 2011.
(Forthcoming: brief review of the alleged violations reported here of medical neutrality.)

Once the Misratans broke out of their siege with outside help, they were able to descend on the capitol and exact revenge, in the days just before that report was published. PHR didn’t stop at Misrata, or at hospitals, covering one serious non-medical war crime in Tripoli, at the time of rebel conquest in late August, with a later PDF report. They were able to medically name the pre-massacre injuries of the unharmed escapees from the alleged Khamis Brigade Shed Massacre. Otherwise, PHR's deficient expertise in bullshit detection is the main feature, taking down witness accounts as truth, and then demanding "accountability’ based on it. We have our own PDF report on that massacre and those witnesses, available at the site of the Citizen's Investigation into War Cimes in Libya.

Later, they did catch and protest the NTC regime's abuse of Dr. Salem Al-Farjani, their advisor on that slanted report, in May 2012. But the Cambridge crowd seem to have missed another massacre, first reported the same time as the shed massacre, just a few miles north, and with a comparable or higher death toll. And it's one right up their alley, one of the most extreme violations of medical neutrality imaginable, occurring inside and on the grounds of a hospital. Dozens of patients and apparently staff were executed, women and children were killed, bodies  were dumped, and one patient at least had his head sliced off. As many as 200 or more victims, 80 at the very least, were slain there, leaving the protected medical space blood-spattered and devoid of human life. It stayed that way for days as the bodies - most them looking like suspected African mercenary types - started rotting.

PHR still have not finished their report on this episode, if they ever started it, and it's been close to a year now. Their medical neutrality page says their organization "documents the deliberate targeting of health care systems and personnel, and advocates accountability for violators." They didn't document this one, and haven't tried calling anyone to task over it.

They provide a handy list of six examples of what a violation, of the kind they would accuse the old Libyan government, would look like. Unless there's an unstated double-standard, the same should apply to Libya's rebel militias. From what we know of the evidence at the hospital, not that anyone's gathered it rigorously, but pictures were taken at least, we can see nearly all examples are represented in this monstrous event [in brackets].

Medical neutrality is violated when health care professionals, facilities, or patients come under attack, or when medical professionals are not allowed to provide treatment. Examples include:
. Attacks on hospitals [Yes]
. Attacks on patients [Yes, many brutally murdered, at least one fully beheaded]
. Attacks on medical personnel [apparently - they all vanished]
. Attacks on medical transport [none evident, at the hospital, at the moment, but elsewhere in the area, at least one ambulance was attacked]
. Misuse of medical facilities [yes, using a hospital as a concentration spot for execution victims, and apparently as a dumping spot for those slaughtered nearby]
. Breaches of medical ethics by medical personnel [none evident among the missing staff, but the staff that "returned" and showed the media around warrants more scrutiny]

All but the fourth and the last examples are evident here, with the "attacks" being of the most decisive, fatal, and often the most brutal sorts. Only the last has been alleged by the rebels - the irresponsible alleged flight of the old staff, due to distant fear of the snipers sending so many to them. It was said the staff fled days prior to the festering mass' exposition on the 26th, as early as the 21st and as late as the 23rd. By this vague account, there was no arrangements or forwarding address for the wounded, leaving the patients to die unseen and leaving more to be dropped off to die. And so, the people died, passively. That's the accepted narrative so far, per the small circuit of rebels with mysteryinformation and journalists with no other sources left to talk to.

Other Libyan Violations Missed
So PHR missed this mother of all violations that saw a hospital turned into a slaughterhouse with hardly a peep from the media after the famous two-day spree of showing the bloating corpses without explanation. There are many other violations they missed in Tripoli, in Sirte, and elsewhere, all of them seemingly committed by anti-government rebel forces. These include shutting off water and electricity, embargoing fuel (needed for backup generators at the hospitals), blockading medicine and food, especially effective in squeezing Sirte, and reportedly direct military attacks on the Ibn Sina hospital there.  - besides these, there are specific deadly abusers which I solicit below, but here are a few examples

. Expulsion and Killing of Patients, Jalaa Hospital, Benghazi
A disturbing incident documented at Al-Jalaa hospital - an injured Black man being attacked, dragged out, and struck with swords.
Dr. Sabril Mohammed's account of a patient dragged out of ICU by rebel people, killed, and had his body displayed "on the wall of the Jalaa hospital." possinly the same incident or two separate ones

.Killing Nurses and Doctors in Tripoli
All allegedly Gaddafi loyalist crimes, but the evidence is far from clear, to put it softly. A doctor in green surgical gown was seen floating in the canal, noted by Hadeel Al-ShalchiAt least two nurses in scrubs, plus two other men in civilian clothes, all four Black, dumped just across the canal from Bab Al Aziziyah, with a bizarre back-story provided by rebular Libyan "locals."

And the mother of them all, the bloodbath at Abu Salim trauma hospital. All these will be mentioned in the report. Anyone please feel free to suggest others or develop these in the comments below.


:: Article nr. 89210 sent on 30-jun-2012 15:39 ECT


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