“Dear all, I salute the courage of young doctors who are not coming to hospitals despite government pressure. I personally request … if you want to win please stay at homes and also… convince others not to go to hospitals. It’s important as it’s the only way we can fail [sic] government of the Punjab…”
This is a message posted by Dr Hamid Butt, the Young Doctors Association Punjab (YDA) president, on the Facebook wall of several groups on Monday.
After the Sunday night’s crackdown on protesting doctors, YDA leaders are increasingly relying on social media, particularly Facebook, to steer their campaign.
Several YDA leaders, who evaded arrest, are now using Facebook and Twitter to communicate with other members, and shunning cell phones. They have been regularly posting messages regarding the strike and strategy in several closed-groups.
“Please don’t forget the sacrifices of young doctors who are being tortured brutally by the…government of the Punjab,” Dr Butt’s post says.
YDA members are also advised to contact paramedic staff union and nurses’ union and persuade them to call for strike in case doctors are not released immediately.
“In the past whenever they needed us we were with them,” a post says. These posts have been receiving comments calling Dr Butt “the real hero”. Some commentators have criticised Army doctors for leaving Mayo Hospital’s emergency. Young doctors have also thanked senior doctors for their support.
A group called YDA Mayo Hospital has claimed that the media and the police were the only people at the hospitals. Dr Mudassir Razzaq Khan, A YDA general council member, writes he is proud to have been terminated from service.
Commenting on Dr Khan’s status, Dr Muzammil Iqbal, a Pakistani doctor in Australia, wrote, “The bottomline is that YDA has decided to target the… poor people….killers”.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a YDA leader, said, “We are using social media to show the facts. Telephone calls aren’t safe, so we are communicating mostly through Facebook and other social media. The government cannot stop us from raising a voice for our rights by arresting us or issuing termination letters. We will keep fighting for our rights”.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2012.