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Jordan arrests over 200 protesters over hospital oxygen deaths

Jordanian security forces keep position as demonstrators gather on a hilltop in Amman on March 15, 2021 [KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP via Getty Images]
Jordanian security forces keep position as demonstrators gather on a hilltop in Amman on March 15, 2021 [KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP via Getty Images]

Jordanian authorities have arrested more than 200 people who had protested the death of six patients due to a lack of oxygen at a hospital ward treating coronavirus patients in the town of Salt, Arabi21 news site reported.

Arabi21 said protests that began in front of the Salt governmental hospital demanding accountability for the deaths, soon spread across the kingdom in defiance of a night-time curfew introduced as part of measures to combat coronavirus, calling to end draconian restrictions introduced during the pandemic.

Muhammad, whose brother was arrested during the protests, told the news site that the security services arrested his brother while he was participating in a peaceful protest in Hay Nazzal in the capital, Amman.

"I went to the security centre where my brother was detained for the first time and tried to see him, but the security personnel prevented me and then expelled me from the centre," he said.

He explained that after his brother had been transferred to the public prosecutor, he submitted two requests for bail on his behalf, but both were rejected.

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Lawyer Alaa Al-Hiyari said the protesters' legal team had applied for their release on bail more than once, but the requests had been rejected, although some of the detainees suffer from chronic diseases.

Al-Hayari told Arabi21 that the detainees include lawyers, engineers, teachers, and university students, explaining that some of them were arrested although they had special permission to travel during the night curfew.

Last week, eight patients died in the capital, Amman, due to a shortage of oxygen supplies, according to the state television. Prime Minister Bishr Al-Khasawneh blamed his government for the deaths, saying these were an "unjustified mistake".

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