The entire medical and security staff staff of the main hospital in Baquba are refusing to work until something is done about the Iraqi police and security forces who have been terrorizing them.
This “Meet the New Boss” stuff is getting old.
Staff and security guards at the hospital, the largest in the province with more than 100 doctors and 400 beds, handed a petition to the director on Saturday saying they would only handle emergency cases until their grievances were addressed.
“We want the governor and the minister to do something to protect us from the organized terrorism of the police and army,” Mohammed Hazim, a specialist at Baquba General Hospital, said.
“There is continuous harassment at the hands of the police and army. They are rude, very disrespectful and aggressive.”
Doctors said that on Friday night, the latest of several incidents in recent weeks, members of an elite police rapid reaction unit had contacted the hospital’s security staff to tell them to alert doctors to get ready for patients.
Dozens of police, some in uniform, some in civilian clothes and all carrying weapons, had then turned up with wounded colleagues demanding treatment.
Doctor Ali Hussein said he had tried to treat one policeman hit in the leg with shrapnel, but when he told him that he was going to need an x-ray, the officer became abusive.
“He told me to go to hell and then started to beat me,” Hussein told Reuters. “Then he told other policemen to put a bag over my head and they tried to take me out to their cars to take me away,” he said.
“Our security guards tried to stop them, telling them I was a doctor, but they didn’t listen and beat the security guards too. Then one of them put a gun to my head and threatened me.”
Other doctors and security staff at the hospital corroborated Hussein’s account of Friday’s incident, saying they were stunned by the behavior of the police, who arrived in a group of around 50, all of them heavily armed.
“I swear they were not normal. They seemed drunk or medicated, they were crazed,” another doctor said, asking that his name not be used for fear of reprisals. He said he had signed the petition handed to the hospital director.
“We can’t work under such circumstances. No one can work with police with weapons all around. They are so abusive.”
Doctors at Baghdad’s Yarmouk hospital, one the busiest, recently reported a similar incident involving Iraq soldiers.
Iraq’s security forces, particularly the police, have in recent months been accused of wrongful arrest, abuse, beatings and even torture by Iraqis, who say their attitude has changed little since Saddam Hussein’s era.
The director of the Baquba hospital said he had received the petition, signed by doctors and security staff, and said he hoped to discuss the situation with the regional governor soon.
“We need order. Doctors feel afraid, they don’t know what could happen to them, and we can’t have that,” he said, asking not to be identified for fear of retribution.