Hundreds Of Secret Hospitals Treating Injured Protesters In Syria, Documentary Reveals
Hundreds of secret hospitals are operating underground in Syria, treating injured protesters and opposition members, as a brutal crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators by President Bashar al-Assad's regime enters its eighth month.
Those doctors who agree to treat protesters are themselves being targeted by the regime, and face arrest, torture and even death if they are discovered, a new documentary to be broadcast by Channel 4 reveals.
'Unreported World: Undercover Syria' also shows that the regime is facing a growing number of military defections, as groups of armed soldiers refuse to fire on civilians and join the opposition, leading to a rising tide of violent clashes in what has until now been a peaceful, although brutally repressed, opposition movement.
Journalist Ramita Navai and producer Wael Dabbous are one of the few international teams that have managed to gain entry to the country, avoiding the heavy restrictions placed on foreign journalists
Their film graphically illustrates the harsh reality of life in the country's clandestine opposition; at least 3,000 pro-democracy demonstrators have been killed since the protests began.
Navai and Dabbous were able to meet the protestors who have been going out into the streets since February to express their anger at the regime, as well as the victims of the bloody reprisals. They also visited the underground hospitals run by doctors risking torture and death for treating injured protesters, and soldiers who defected from the regime after being ordered to fire on civilians.
Their work led them to experience life as fugitives when they found themselves trapped in a safe house with three wanted opposition figures. Unable to leave as government forces smashed their way into homes in the town of Madaya, in search of the men, they were forced to hide in cupboards to escape capture.
"Over 72 hours, under a thick cloud of cigarette smoke and never raising their voices above a whisper, the men – all in their twenties – share their lives with us," Ramita writes in a blog for The Huffington Post UK. "The men barely sleep, jumping at the slightest sound, as the raids get nearer. Abu Jafar’s wife calls him sobbing, fearing for her husband’s life. The men tell us if they are caught, they are scared they will be killed."
But as the film demonstrates, the protests continue regardless.
Less than 12 hours after the army withdrew from Madaya, the opposition was back on the streets chanting for freedom.
Unreported World: Undercover Syria will be broadcast on Channel 4 on Friday 14 October at 7.30pm