Monday, December 4, 2017

Ground Zero: Wounded protesters and teargas flood Tegucigalpa’s Hospital Escuela

Wounded protesters and teargas flood Tegucigalpa’s Hospital Escuela

If there is one place you can see the military siege of Tegucigalpa playing out in real time, it is at the emergency room of the city’s main public hospital, the “Hospital Escuela.” Ambulance after ambulance come in through the gates, sometimes taxis or trucks, all carrying the wounded from the front lines of the struggle against the fraud being perpetrated by the Honduran dictatorship of Juan Orlando Hernández.

Outside the gates vendors hawk food, taxi drivers trade jokes and wait for people leaving the hospital, and across the street under a tent they sell caskets. The morgue is in the basement. Inside the gates, two guards peer out through small slits in the corrugated metal doors, waiting to see who will come next. Just beyond them, a nurse stands waiting to receive the next ambulance. Beyond him, along a wall under a small shelter dozens of family members of patients huddle together sitting on the ground, some on old school desks, others laying out pieces of cardboard.

It was into this area inside the gates of the Hospital Escuela that at about 3:45pm on December 1st the police fired a tear gas canister. They were pursuing a group of anti-fraud protesters, and launching teargas indiscriminately according to numerous witnesses. The nurse, the guards, the patients were all affected. Another canister rolled underneath the car where a woman and her nine-year-old child were riding, and when the woman opened the door to try to get them both out, gas flooded in, causing the child to faint and knocking the woman fully unconscious from an asthma attack. The police and military rushed straight by, leaving her and another woman who had passed out on the ground. The protesters picked them up and pushed the gates to the hospital open to get them attention. So much gas was launched that patients all the way to at least the third floor of the hospital were affected when the gas came in through their windows.

La Voz de los de Abajo worked alongside Juventud por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos spent a good portion of two evenings, November 30th and December 1st, documenting other cases in the hospital emergency room, including:

·      A 12 year old child was shot by military police in the Pedregal neighborhood in his side at approximately 7:45pm on 11/30. He was thought by many in the neighborhood to be dead but was rushed to the Hospital Escuela and operated on and survived.

·      A 23 year old man was shot in the left side of his neck in the Pedregal neighborhood by military police at 8pm on 11/30. A friend saw him and got a car to agree to take them to the hospital. The police resisted letting them through a check-point between the neighborhood and the hospital and declined the request of the driver for the patrol car to finish driving the injured man to the hospital in order to arrive faster.

·      Another 23 year old man was shot in the leg in the Pedregal neighborhood on 11/30, also by military police, and was rushed to the hospital, making it by 9pm but had to wait an hour to be attended because of the number of injured coming in the doors.
·      Three young men had gone to have lunch in the central park of Tegucigalpa on 12/1 at and came upon an anti-fraud protest. At 5:10pm, the military police clashed with the protesters and in the commotion a private security guard at one of the businesses opened fire and shot one of the boys, age 15, severely wounding his abdomen and putting him in critical condition. As of 12/3, hospital staff is worried that he will not survive as his lungs were punctured.
·      An older man with cerebral palsy and a brain tumor was detained while trying to move a motorcycle that was tipped over in the street during one of the protests. He was taken to the CORE 7 detention center, where he informed police that he had a tumor on one side of his brain and was subject to seizures as a result. They responded “we’ll give you one on the other side” and hit him in the head, knocking him to the ground where they proceeded to kick him. He began to seize and they brought him in to the hospital.

·      21 people were brought into the Hospital Escuela with police or military-inflicted wounds between 9-10pm on December 1st, and by morning the total was more than 40, according to hospital staff.

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