Police baton-charge, arrest young doctors in Quetta during protest against lack of PPEs

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Syed Ali Shah | Dawn.comUpdated April 06, 2020


Balochistan Police arrested over a dozen young doctors in Quetta on Monday while they were protesting against the unavailability of personal protective equipment (PPEs) in provincial hospitals as the war against Covid-19 intensifies.

Young Doctors Association (YDA) and paramedical staff began a demonstration from Civil Hospital and marched up to the chief minister's secretariat where they were met by baton-wielding policemen, who proceeded to baton-charge and arrest several doctors.

Talking to DawnNewsTV, YDA Balochistan President Yasir Achakzai confirmed that they had marched up to the CM's secretariat against a complete lack of protective gear for medical workers who were playing a key role in the country's fight against the novel coronavirus.

Achakzai said they were baton-charged by security forces, adding that "dozens" were arrested near the Red Zone. A few members of the Balochistan Assembly also reached the venue and tried to negotiate with the protesting doctors and paramedic staff.

Following the arrests, the YDA chief announced a boycott of young doctors' services from government hospitals. "We suspend all our services following the high-handedness of police," Achakzai said in an emergency press conference.

Meanwhile, Quetta Deputy Inspector General of Police Razzaq Cheema confirmed the arrests of "dozens" of doctors but denied the use of batons against them.

"Yes, police arrested dozens of protesting doctors today," Cheema said. He denied the allegations that police had assaulted the protesting doctors but added that "a scuffle broke out after the medics tried to cross barricades near the Red Zone".

However, a video – which has been independently verified – is circulating on social media, which shows the police striking the doctors with batons and forcing them inside police vans.


"The protesting doctors have been shifted to various police stations in Quetta," DIG Cheema said.

The protest in Quetta comes a day after 13 doctors tested positive for Covid-19 in the provincial capital.

In a tweet, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan announced that he met YDA doctors and assured them of his government's full cooperation in their battle against Covid-19 and in meeting their demands.


'State thuggery'
Soon after today's arrests, PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif in a tweet condemned the "torture & arrest" of doctors in Quetta, referring to police's actions as "shameful behaviour".


PPP co-chair Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also lashed out at the government for the violence against young doctors, terming the act “state thuggery”.

“Instead of providing them with the requisite protective gear, the government has sent them to jail. At a time when they are needed in hospitals, doctors have been sent to jails. What kind of justice is this?” questioned Bilawal.

He said rather than fulfilling their genuine demands, the PTI government is quashing their basic human rights.

Bilawal lamented that while doctors all around the world were being praised and supported for being on the front lines in the war against the virus, “Pakistan’s state is sending them to jails.”

Saluting the efforts of doctors in Pakistan for their services, Bilawal extended full support for Quetta’s doctors.

“The PPP is standing with you. Do not consider yourself alone,” he said in his statement.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1546921/p...in-quetta-during-protest-against-lack-of-ppes
 

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In pandemic of Corona Virus Pakistan is the only country in the world who has put their Doctors in Bar because they were demanding protective equipment for their safety.



 

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GENOCIDE OF #Balochistan isnt always with Guns and bullets of #Pakistan but through #ChineseVirus too

shahi sadat
@shahisadat

Today every citizen of the world is honoring their doctors in the fight against the deadly coronavirus,in contrast the security forces of the fascist state of Pakistan treat the medical professionals of Baloch& Pashtun like salves


 

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Pakistan Police Clash With Doctors Protesting Lack of Virus Protection Gear
By Reuters

  • QUETTA, Pakistan — Riot police wielding batons used force to break up a protest by Pakistani doctors and medical staff against a lack of gear to protect against coronavirus, arresting dozens of medics who say the government has failed to deliver promised supplies.

    Reuters journalists at the scene, in the southwestern city of Quetta, saw hundreds of doctors and paramedics, some in face masks and scrubs, chanting their demands. Some were dragged off by riot police in helmets, armed with rifles and batons.

    A senior police official said 30 protesters had been arrested for defying a ban on public gatherings imposed during a lockdown to fight the spread of the virus. Doctors threatened to stop working unless the detained protesters were released.

    Pakistan has reported a total of 3,277 cases of the virus, including 50 deaths. At least 191 of these cases are in the vastly underdeveloped province of Balochistan, of which Quetta is the capital.

    Dr Abdul Rahim, a spokesman for the doctors' association leading the protest, told reporters after the incident that the medics believed the failure to supply them with safety gear was putting them at risk.

    “A dozen doctors have been infected while other medical staff is also suffering,” he said. He added that a number of doctors and paramedics had been injured in the baton charge.


    Doctors in Pakistan's capital Islamabad last month also threatened to boycott duties if not provided protective gear, which has been in short supply. The country's disaster management authority has said it is being imported in batches.

    A spokesman for the provincial government told Reuters hospitals in Quetta dealing with coronavirus had been provided protective gear, and the medics who were demonstrating were not those fighting the virus.

    "The doctors protesting don't look after coronavirus patients; we don't understand their justification for protesting," Balochistan government spokesman Liquat Shahwani said.

    The doctors say they deal with hundreds of visiting patients daily who could be infected but are unaware and have not been referred to the hospitals and centres dealing with coronavirus. Medical workers who have so far been infected do not all work at such centres.

    Global rights watchdog Amnesty International’s South Asia wing condemned the arrests in a statement on Twitter, terming it an attack on the doctors’ right to peaceful protest and an affront to the risks they face.
 

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