Call for Egypt to release detained doctors to help in COVID-19 fight

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While the health sector in Egypt and the whole world suffers from a clear deficit in the number of doctors and nurses, Egyptian opponents have revealed that more than 1,000 doctors and workers in the health sector are being held in the Egyptian regime’s prisons for their political opinions. The Egyptian opposition movement Batel (Illegitimate), demanded the regime release medical detainees, to help in efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus. The movement, launched by regime opponents, published lists of more than a hundred doctors in various medical specialties, calling on the Egyptian authorities to put aside political disputes and release them so that they can work in government hospitals, prison hospitals or in military hospitals.

The campaign considered that the Egyptian regime is wasting a real opportunity to unite people facing imminent danger, and instead have cracked down on people who contradict its version of the spread of the epidemic. The statement also accused the regime of continuing its policy of misleading the Egyptians, underestimating a catastrophe that could kill the lives of thousands of innocent people, and could leave economic devastation that will increase poverty. The demand to release detained doctors comes amid escalating calls for the release of detainees and prisoners in general in Egypt, for fear of the spread of the virus among them, especially with the deterioration of health and humanitarian conditions inside prisons. Days ago, activists on social media shared a message attributed to doctors inside Egyptian prisons, calling for their release to help in the fight against coronavirus.

In the same context, the movement of Egyptians Abroad for Democracy and the Centre for Egyptian American Relations called on the American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to demand the Egyptian authorities immediately release Egyptian doctors detained in prisons, to benefit from their efforts in the face of the emerging coronavirus. This came in a joint speech that was sent to the White House and the American State Department. “On behalf of Egypt’s politically imprisoned doctors who have been unjustly imprisoned, we urge you to benefit from the expertise of these professional doctors in the fight against coronavirus,” the letter said. The letter added, “We would also like to highlight the plight of many doctors who are currently staying in inhumane Egyptian prisons and are being tried on false accusations, just to express their political opinions.” It continued, “These are the doctors who not only studied and practiced but excelled in their fields of specialisation.” The letter mentioned an example among the arrested doctors, Dr. Walid Morsi al-Senussi, who has conducted successful experiments that could help in combating coronavirus. The letter pointed out that “These Egyptian doctors and scientists, who are political prisoners, are currently keen to help humanity overcome this current crisis.” “Because these doctors cannot serve humanity in their homeland because of their unlawful detention, they are fully prepared to come to the United States to help in this case, and they do so at the request of the US State Department for doctors worldwide, so we urge you to demand the release of them immediately.”

Last Thursday, Washington urged medical doctors who work to treat or mitigate the effects of coronavirus to make a visa request to travel to the United States of America. On March 26 2020 the US Department of State announced it is encouraging medical professionals with approved US nonimmigrant or immigrant visa petitions or certificates of eligibility for an approved J-1 exchange programme, particularly those willing to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19, to contact their nearest embassy or consulate to request a visa appointment.