Pakistani doctors in Europe protest torture of fellow medic by UK police


Dr Abbasi said that his wife was assaulted first by the police and then he was attacked. — Photo by author

LONDON: A leading association of Pakistani physicians in Europe has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to order an inquiry into violence by Northumbria Police on Dr Rashid Abbasi and his wife Dr Aliya Abbasi, both senior National Health Service (NHS) physicians.

The Association of Pakistani Physicians of Northern Europe (APPNE), along with Doctor Alumni Associations, wrote to PM Boris Johnson after footage emerged showing harrowing treatment to Dr Abbasi by four officers of the police force.

In the video, Dr Abbasi was seen being dragged to the ground, beaten and hit in various body parts by the police officers. He also suffered a heart attack during the torture that continued for about half an hour.

The couple was subjected to violence by the Northumbria police as they sat by their 6-years-old daughter Zainab’s hospital bedside while doctors wanted them to leave the room so her life support could be switched off for her to die.

The letter sent by the doctor’s association to PM Johnson. — Photo by author

The Association of Pakistani Physicians of Northern Europe (APPNE) sent a letter to the UK PM stating that nearly 12,000 Pakistani doctors serving in Northern Europe were deeply anguished at the treatment given to Dr Rashid Abbasi.

The letter says: “Dr Rashid Abbasi was grieving at the bedside of his terminally ill six-year-old daughter at a local hospital. Video footage clearly depicts the events shows the harrowing ordeal that he and his family had to suffer. It appears to be a violation of his fundamental human rights and comes across as a deplorable action by the authorities.

“In your recent public messages where you had quite rightly acknowledged the immense contribution of front line doctors and the healthcare staff during the pandemic, this particular incident has unsettled and angered the medical fraternity at large and particularly BAME healthcare professionals.

While we do not condone any verbal or physical abuse of healthcare staff in the NHS, we also feel that there should be measures in place within the system to prevent such ordeals. We request your office to direct an inquiry which may result in appropriate recommendations to prevent such incidents taking place in future.”

The letter by Pakistani doctors has also been sent to Priti Patel MP, Secretary of State for the Home Department, and Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Dr Rashid Abbasi has told The News that his wife was assaulted first by the police and then he came under attack.

Zainab, 6, had complex needs due to a rare degenerative condition and doctors had told the couple that she had only a few hours to survive. She died a week after her parents were forcibly removed from the hospital exactly a year ago.

Dr Abbasi, a former Dow college graduate, explained that Zainab suffered from Niemann-Pick disease and the after-effects of swine flu, which she contracted when she was two and then in 2018 she had a flare-up of her lung condition after a viral infection.

On the day of the incident, the NHS staff asked the police to remove the couple so that they could switch off the life support system. Footage shows Dr Abbasi sat by the bed when the police started dragging him away.

He was detained and then released after the police realized that he has suffered a heart attack. He has never been charged of any crime.

He told The News: “We had the option of staying quiet but we have decided to take a stand for our Zainab and for everyone else in this country. No parent should go through what we have been made to suffer. No daughter of any parent should be denied her rights like our daughter was. The police brutalised us but the main blame lies with the hospital staff for telling a bogus story to the police to act against us. It’s the hospital staff that’s responsible for the attack on us. We will not rest until justice.”

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