Medical Group Statement concerning the Hunger-Strike in Munich

We are representatives of the Medical Group, which is composed of various health-care related professionals. Amongst us there are doctors, nurses, midwives and medical students.
 
While our political points of view, our ages, and origins may vary, these differences were irrelevant in the context of our solidarity with the hunger strikers at the Rindermarkt. 
 
Due to the partially false and polemical media coverage in the past weeks we would like to release a statement in order to correct what we conceive of as flawed media coverage.

The allegation that the protestors were uncooperative with doctors is simply false. From the very beginning of the camp there were no attempts to foreclose cooperation with the medical personnel. To the contrary: The Medical Group, which was set up for this very purpose, was present from the beginning. The Medical Group was operating day and night and was trusted by the Non-Citizens. At no point was access to the camp denied.
 
In the beginning of the camp the Medical Group was invited by the strikers to a plenum in order to inform about the consequences of wet and dry hunger strikes. We did this conscientiously and extensively. The ones who entered the hunger strike were informed about all known consequences of an abstention from food and liquids and thus entered the hunger strike in full awareness of these consequences and on their own accord.   

Throughout the protest and at all times, personnel of the Medical Group was present within or in close proximity to the detached zone within the camp in order to check on vital signs and in order to monitor the state of health of every protesting person.
 
In addition, strikers monitored each other in small groups and alarmed us immediately in case of peculiar behaviour of co-strikers. It was agreed by the protestors that in cases of unconsciousness an emergency doctor and paramedics would be brought into the camp. At no point were doctors and paramedics obstructed in their work.
 
At night we established the routine of quarter-hourly arousal to ensure that all protestors were conscious. If a person could not be woken up, the information was immediately passed on and within seconds paramedics and emergency doctors would be on site so that the person concerned could be brought into hospital.
 
The reliability in the cooperation between protestors and the Medical Group as well as paramedics and emergency doctors was well known to the city. We had agreed to pass on information to the ‘action force’ about the ongoing situation.
 
On Wednesday morning a meeting took place between the representative of the ‘social unit’, the squad leader of the fire-brigades, the on-duty emergency doctor and three representatives of the Medical Group. In that meeting the Medical Group explained its structure and mode of operation. Furthermore, the positive cooperation of the Medical Group with the ‘action force’ on site was welcomed by both emergency medical staff as well as the city. After the meeting, the representative of the ‘social unit’ did not require further intervention due to the well functioning structure of the Medical Group and its positive  and smooth cooperation with the state-sponsored medical emergency personnel in the subsequent days.
 
However, this changed abruptly on Saturday afternoon. The messenger of the protestors was informed to allow access to three doctors to the camp who were chosen by the city. This communication reached us without warning and was rejected by the Non-Citizens as they did not deem further doctors within the camp necessary, especially ones they had not chosen and who thus did not constitute trusted doctors. The lawyer of the protestors appealed. The Medical Group immediately passed on the 24 hour shift schedule to the squat leader of the fire-brigades that was demanded in order to prove the existence of exhaustive medical assistance.
Nonetheless, a doctor of the “Kassenärztlichen Vereinigung Bayerns (KVB)”, who was authorized by the city, used his opportunity during an emergency to enter the camp even though trusted doctors of the Medical Group in cooperation with emergency doctors and paramedics were already attending to the hunger-striker. Although prompted to leave, the KVB-doctor refused to leave the camp, thereby violating both the privacy of the hunger-strikers and the organizational structure of the Medical Group.
Later he told the media that “40-45 people had been lying on the ground unconsciously and apathetically”. The statement of this doctor, as politicians pronounced, was the basis of the eviction of the camp in the same night. At that point in time, 47 persons were present in the camp, some strikers were (still) in hospital. The camp was composed of different tents with detached areas. Not at any time could the KVB-doctor have had an overview of all persons present in the camp when he entered an area with a maximum of 12 sleeping places of which only about half were used by strikers (who followed the situation consciously!). Furthermore, there were about 15 strikers standing or sitting in front of the tents, also because of the emergency.
 
Due to the untruthfulness of the KVB-doctor and its terrible consequences for the strikers through the eviction, it seems strange that the trusted doctor of the Medical Group present in the camp may have to face legal challenges, especially as there were numerous witnesses of the incident.
 
In the end, every attempt of transparency and cooperation from the side of the Medical Group on behalf of the protestors did not suffice to prevent the brutal eviction of the camp on allegedly ‘humanitarian grounds’. The proposition of ‘humanitarian grounds’ cannot have been the decisive factor as the eviction itself threatened the already compromised health conditions of the wet and dry hunger strikers, consciously endangering their lives. Additionally, in up to seven hours in police custody after the eviction, no medical attendance was offered to the hunger-strikers.
 
Concerning the particular situation of the children and the pregnant woman:
A pediatrician was present in the camp already on Saturday, the 22nd of June 2013, who checked up on the health condition of the three present children. On Tuesday, the 25th of June 2013, we consulted once again a pediatrician due to the low outdoor temperature. The pediatrician examined the 16-months old boy. On Friday, the 28th of June 2013, as a response to a demand by the youth welfare service, both the eight and nine-year old children were examined in a pediatric practice in the presence of a representative of the youth welfare service.
The pregnant woman was looked after by a gynecologist and a midwife in the camp. She gave birth a few days after the eviction. Both mother and children are healthy and well.
Both the pregnant woman as well as the children were health-wise completely uncompromised and were at no time participating in the wet and dry hunger strikes. The eviction was extremely burdensome, even traumatizing, for all participants, but also for the young children. The violence employed against their parents and other strikers had to be avoided. The pregnant protestor was forcefully and against her will led away in the course of which she fell to the ground and was dragged on. Throughout this ordeal she was holding her 16-months old child in her arms.       
 
We vehemently condemn the public defamation of the camp in which any capacity to form opinions and decisions independently was denied to the strikers, as well as the eviction of peacefully striking people and especially the violence enforced against the wet and dry hunger-strikers, the children and the pregnant woman.
 
Members of the Medical Group
 
Munich, 20th July 2013