Head of Doctors Syndicate Hassan Khairy and Deputy Head Mona Mina were summoned Saturday by the East Cairo Prosecution over a report they had filed to the Prosecutor General, accusing the police of brutality against doctors, according to the syndicate’s press statement.
The syndicate was scheduled to hold a press conference to discuss police violations but it was delayed due to the absence of Mina and Khairy. In addition, an emergency meeting for the syndicate’s public assembly will be held on 12 February to discuss the possibility of holding a general nationwide strike.
This comes following a chain of events that took place past week that began with an alleged assault on doctors by police conscripts at the Matariya Teaching Hospital.
The reported incident took place on 28 January, when two doctors on a night shift at the hospital were allegedly beaten by a police conscript and his colleagues following a dispute that broke out between them and the injured conscript regarding his injury.
The syndicate condemned police brutality against doctors and called for escalatory measures to bring the perpetrators to justice. However on Thursday, Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek ordered the re-opening of the hospital and investigating those involved in the closure of the hospital.
The doctors at the Matariya Teaching Hospital decided Friday to re-open emergency services only after stating that they would present collective resignations to the syndicate, to be sent to the Ministry of Health. The hospital has been closed for one week, following a decision by the Doctors Syndicate claiming to be binding for doctors nationwide.
“The Mataryia doctors are pressured but what if all doctors go on strike? How will the state pressure them?” Doctors in the syndicate told Daily News Egypt.
However, according to a copy of the Prosecutor General’s decision published by state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, there should be legal accountability for obstructing a public institution from serving citizens. As such, those who refused to work at the hospital are considered to have committed a “constitutional crime” by violating people’s rights to healthcare services.
“Doctor’s strikes are a legitimate form of collective action all over the world according to international protocols,” syndicate board member Hossam Kamal told Daily News Egypt. Prior the decision to strike in the Mataryia hospital, “the syndicate made sure that surrounding hospitals are fully operational”.
On the other hand, the syndicate received expressions of solidarity from different public figures and groups who criticised the police violations. A social media hashtag called “Support Egypt’s doctors” was launched.
“Defend doctors’ dignity, human values, rule of law and justice against police violations, lack of professionalism and ethics of some of its members,” former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy said about the hashtag.
Similarly satirist Bassem Youssef, who is a cardiologist himself, also expressed support for the doctors’ strike.
Furthermore 13 political parties, syndicates, and civil society organisations announced their support for the doctors including the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP), the Revolutionary Socialists, Al-Dostour Party, the Egyptian Centre Economic and Social Research (ECESR), and the Freedoms Committee of the Press Syndicate.
Moreover 142 figures from professional syndicates, political parties, journalists, and other independent groups signed a statement accusing the Ministry of Interior of “pressuring the assaulted doctors, by falsely claiming the need to open the hospital for the sake of patients […] the interior ministry insists on covering up for the violations of its men and has threatened the victims of fabricating political charges against them if they do not withdraw from following pursuing the perpetrators legally”.