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Doctors Without Borders: Syria Uses Medicine As A Weapon Of Persecution

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This image taken from video filmed over the past several days by an independent cameraman and made available Tuesday Feb. 7, 2012 shows medical staff trying to help injured a hospital in the Bab Amr neighbourhood of Homs, Syria. (AP Photo/APTN)
This image taken from video filmed over the past several days by an independent cameraman and made available Tuesday Feb. 7, 2012 shows medical staff trying to help injured a hospital in the Bab Amr neighbourhood of Homs, Syria. (AP Photo/APTN)

When a 29-year-old cameraman was shot in the hand during an attack by Syrian security forces, he did not go to the hospital. The pain was unbearable, so intense he wished that he was dead. Yet for this man, like so many of those injured in Syria's protests, medical care was off limits.

"In the situation that we have in Syria, you cannot go to a hospital, because if you do, they either amputate the limb that you are suffering from or they take you to prison," the cameraman -- who preferred to remain anonymous -- explained to the aid organization Doctors Without Borders. "I was detained twice and what we saw is that some of those in prison are left to have their wounds rot."

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Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization, collected dozens of statements by Syrians who have been injured in the country's 11-month uprising and concluded that for the Assad regime, medicine has become a weapon of persecution.

"In Syria today, wounded patients and doctors are pursued, and risk torture and arrest at the hands of the security services," said Marie-Pierre Allié, president of Doctors Without Borders.

Although the organization is not permitted by to operate inside Syria, it argues that the recurrent nature of many statements from patients treated outside Syria and doctors inside the country point to a brutal repression of wounded demonstrators. According to Doctors Without Borders, injured demonstrators fear arrest and torture in the country's private and public hospitals. Roads are unsafe and security forces are thought to target patients with injuries frequently sustained during demonstrations.

In the video below, an anonymous 23-year-old man recounts his decision to avoid seeking medical treatment at a Syrian hospital:

I was in the street, and usually when there is a raid on the city, they shoot randomly and indiscriminately on all people, whether it's an old man, a child, or a woman. Any moving person was a target. I was injured in my hand. There were other people injured, too.

No, I was not taken to a hospital, because all the hospitals were surrounded with security personnel. In the hospitals now, the security cadres are more numerous than the medical personnel, and anyone is subject to arrest and even murder inside the hospital.

"We are constantly being pursued by the security forces," a physician told the group. "Many doctors who treated wounded patients in their private hospitals have been arrested and tortured."

The U.N. estimates that more than 5,400 people have been killed since Syria's uprising started in March 2011. Activists say at least 200 people were killed on Saturday alone, when security forces shelled the restive city of Homs.

Watch the testimonies collected by Doctors Without Borders in the videos below. Click here to read the organization's report.

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