As Iraq deteriorates into full-scale civil war and fades from our TV screens, the Washington Post reports that Sunnis are now being systematically killed at Iraqi hospitals
In Baghdad these days, not even the hospitals are safe. In growing numbers, sick and wounded Sunnis have been abducted from public hospitals operated by Iraq’s Shiite-run Health Ministry and later killed, according to patients, families of victims, doctors and government officials.
As a result, more and more Iraqis are avoiding hospitals, making it even harder to preserve life in a city where death is seemingly everywhere. Gunshot victims are now being treated by nurses in makeshift emergency rooms set up in homes. Women giving birth are smuggled out of Baghdad and into clinics in safer provinces.
In most cases, family members and hospital workers said, the motive for the abductions appeared to be nothing more than religious affiliation. Because public hospitals here are controlled by Shiites, the killings have raised questions about whether hospital staff have allowed Shiite death squads into their facilities to slaughter Sunni Arabs.
‘Tell me where you live!’ “Tell me where you live!” a nurse at Medical City snapped at the arriving patients, Obeidi recalled, as the staff moved residents of mainly Sunni areas into a separate room.
A few moments later, he saw Mahdi Army troops handcuff five Sunni men who were donating blood — including the friend who had brought him to the hospital — and haul them out of the hospital, Obeidi said. A Sunni doctor ran up to him and said he would be killed unless he fled immediately.
As the Post reports, one minor side effect of this horror is that mortality counts are even more unreliable than usual as Sunnis are avoiding hospitals, where their deaths used to officially recorded.
The reluctance of Sunnis to enter hospitals is making it increasingly difficult to assess the number of casualties caused by sectarian violence. During a recent attack on Shiite pilgrims, a top Sunni political leader accused the Shiite-led government of ignoring large numbers of Sunnis who he said were also killed and wounded in the clash, though he was unable to offer even a rough estimate of the Sunni casualties.
August 30th, 2006