Article 18, Part II of the Fourth Geneva Convention (August 12, 1949) states clearly that:
” Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.”
Hospitals are sanctuaries that should be respected and avoided by all warring sides. One of the reasons is that the injured and wounded are unable to defend themselves, and any honourable being will never attack or fight with anyone who is disabled or ill. The patients are also unable to run or seek shelter elsewhere.
There are many videos and photos showing that during the rally on 709, Tung Shin Hospital, or more specifically, the compound of Tung Shin hospital, was hit by water cannons and tear gas .
It is understandable that in the heat of flexing their muscles against unarmed civilians , some of the personnel might have forgotten that hospitals are sanctuaries to be avoided. I suspect some may not even have heard of the Geneva Convention, given the state of our education system. So it was actually understandable that some might have been so caught up that they fired their gas canisters and water cannons into the compound of the hospital.
Afterall, humans are fallible, we are not God. But when a person has erred, he must be prepared to learn from his mistakes and apologise for his error, and accept any punishment for making the error if it is serious enough to warrant such punishment.
The correct response from the powers that be, including the ‘honourable’ Home and Health Ministers, should be the acknowledgement of such attacks in the presence of irrefutable evidence and issuing a sincere apology to the patients, staff and management of the Hospital, and a promise that such nonsense would never happen again.
Instead, we have seen the bungling act again. In reacting instead of responding, their first act was that of a denial. When evidence shows otherwise, one of the Honourables even stated that he was merely conveying what he was told by the hospital board, who must be so intimidated or outdated that even their own doctors have come forward to refute their claims.
The statement by the 11 brave doctors working in TungShin Hospital clearly shows that what were captured in pictures and videos did happen. These are professionals who have nothing to gain by coming out with such a statement. They are the neutral ones who speak so that the truth can be seen and heard.
In the light of all these evidence, perhaps an apology by the PM should be tendered . In many other democracies, this sort of bungling would have led to voluntary resignations of the ministers involved. Resigning not because anyone had knowingly ordered the attacks ( I don’ t believe any one in their right minds would do that), but rather as a sign of taking responsibility.
This is what responsible government is about!
(this article is also posted in the side view of Malaysian Insider here.)
recommended reading: The Debacle of Mishandling here