Sudan doctors pledge free treatment as protesters gear up for nationwide 'civil disobedience' campaign

Sudan doctors pledge free treatment as protesters gear up for nationwide 'civil disobedience' campaign
Doctors in Sudan have said they will begin a campaign of 'medical disobedience' on Sunday, calling for the military to step down and hand over power to civilians.
3 min read
08 June, 2019
At least 113 people were killed in the brutal crackdown [Getty]

Doctors in Sudan have pledged "medical disobedience" after this week's massacre of more than a hundred peaceful protesters in the capital Khartoum.

The death toll of the horrific attack on a weeks-long sit-in by paramilitary and security forces reached 113 on Friday.

Hundreds of wounded protesters flooded into hospitals in Khartoum, at least three of which were encircled and attacked by paramilitary forces according to eyewitnesses.

The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) reportedly shot live bullets into hospitals, prevented medical assistance and aid from reaching doctors, and beat and arrested medical professionals.

There have also been multiple reports that doctors at the sit-in were raped by RSF soldiers.

The RSF is an officialised offshoot of the infamous Janjaweed militias accused of war crimes in the Darfur conflict.

That series of events have led for a leading coalition of Sudanese doctors to call for international medical organisations including Doctors Without Borders and the World Health Organisation to intervene and help provide medical care.

Members of the Sudanese diaspora have also been crowdfunding to cover the costs of medical equipment and care.

Read more: Is Sudan facing a counterrevolution?

Now, Sudanese doctors coalition the Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors (CCSD) has promised it will begin a campaign of "medical disobedience" on Sunday.

That pledge comes after the country's leading protest organiser the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), of which the CCSD is a part, called for an ongoing strike and comprehensive "civil disobediencecampaign earlier this week.

Protesters across the country have said they will participate in the campaign, calling for the an end to the rule of the military junta and a swift transition to civilian rule.

"[Civil] disobedience will continue until the overthrow of the military junta and Janjaweed militias, and the trial of all the coup leaders and those responsible for all the killings that took place since [the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir] until today," said the CCSD in a statement on Friday.

Emergency care will continue in hospitals across the country, the CCSD said, noting that this did not constitute a violation of the civil disobedience pact but rather exemplary of the doctors' "supreme humanitarian mission and absolute moral commitment towards our great people".

Emergency treatment would instead be provided for free, the doctors association explained. The number of doctors present in hospitals would be increased in order to realise that goal.

Saving lives, the CCSD claimed, would mean the "defeat of systematic murder and genocide". But contributing money to the state's coffers by charging patients for treatment, it explained, would service the "killing regime".

Free treatment would help realise the general goal of the "civil disobedience" campaign towards "paralysing" the regime, the CCSD said.

The association added that during the ongoing "medical disobedience" campaign it would form a committee to organise doctors across the capital Khartoum and the country, dispatching doctors to understaffed hospitals.

The CCSD added that it will work towards supplying each doctor - and planned medical associations in every neighbourhood - with an emergency medical kit to keep at home.

Two rebels and an opposition leader were arrested on Friday and Saturday after both the military junta and opposition met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The SPA has also warned of the intimidation and arrest of workers in "vital sectors", such as electricity aviation, who have pledged to strike starting on Sunday.

Protesters are worried that such arrests signal an even more brutal crackdown if the "disobedience" campaign goes forward.