Homo Homini Award
Homo Homini Award to Honor Work of Underground Network of Syrian Doctors
People in Need, the largest Czech NGO, will grant the Homo Homini Award for 2011 to the underground network of Syrian doctors and medical staff known as Doctors Coordinate of Damascus. The doctors will be honored with this human rights award for the outstanding courage and effort they demonstrate when they put their own lives at risk to help civilians who have been injured as a result of brutal repression by the current Syrian regime. The award will be received in person by one of the Syrian doctors' coordinators at the opening of the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival to take place on 6 March 2012.
„The Syrian doctors and medical staff associated with the Doctors Coordinate of Damascus organization provide extremely important aid to those in need and while doing so in hiding they put their own lives in danger.
Special forces of Assad's repressive state apparatus systematically search state hospitals and take away the people who have been wounded at the demonstrations, putting them in prisons and frequently torturing or even executing them," says Simon Panek, the director of People in Need, explaining why the Syrian doctors will be recognized this year. In a broader sense, the award is dedicated to all underground Syrian doctors and medical professionals taking care of wounded civilians, while risking their own lives.
Since the outburst of violence in 2011, Syria has experienced military repressions that have left an estimated seven thousand people dead, with many more wounded.
According to the doctors, injured civilians often lack medical care and even if they are able to get to a hospital, it can end up costing them their lives. Currently the underground doctors work in six Syrian provinces and treat up to a hundred wounded people on an ad hoc basis. "In some cases, it is enough to cleanse the wound and administer antibiotics and a tetanus shot. In others, a serious surgery and a blood transfusion are needed," says one of the group's coordinators.
Many underground doctors have been wounded or arrested; others, including Ibrahim Othman, one of the founders of the network, have apparently been killed. „Hospitals are being searched by the Syrian security forces and witnesses have described a number of cases when patients, only a couple of hours after a major surgery, have been disconnected from the medical machines that helped them breathe-machines that kept them alive-and were taken from their hospital beds to prison. In some cases, they died in cars while in transit," describes Marek Svoboda, the director of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy of People in Need.
Given tragic situations like this, certain physicians and other medical staff took the intiative and decided to treat the injured in their homes or in improvised field hospitals. Gradually they founded other groups, among which the Doctors Coordinate of Damascus is the most visible. This group started working within the suburbs of Damascus in an abandoned room with very limited equipment, but with a greater demand as an increasing number of civilians have become injured, they have managed to acquire more medication supplies in order to treat them.
Founded in 1992 and having worked in over 40 countries around the world, People in Need (www.peopleinneed.cz) is the largest Czech NGO, predominantly focused on humanitarian, development and human rights support. It is also the organizer of the One World documentary film festival that has grown to be the largest showcase of human rights documentaries in the world. Until his passing away, the Homo Homini award
(http://www.clovekvtisni.cz/index2en.php?id=549) has traditionally been handed over by the former Czech President Václav Havel.
For more information contact:
Marek Svoboda, Director of Center for Human Rights and Democracy of People in Need
+420 724 122 111
Šimon Pánek, Director of People in Need
+420 777 787 913