Arrests, Detentions, Threat of Dismissal Fail to Stop Myanmar’s Civil Disobedience Movement

By The Irrawaddy 26 February 2021

Myanmar’s civil servants are taking part in the national Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) against the military regime despite growing threats of arrest, detention and dismissal from their jobs.

Many of the striking civil servants say they are determined to carry on with their resistance until the military hands power back to Myanmar’s democratically elected government.

Some 48 civil servants, including an officer and a deputy director of the Union Parliament, were fired on Tuesday for their involvement in the CDM, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which is monitoring detentions.

At the Magway regional parliament office, 30 employees—four deputy officers, six senior clerks, 15 junior clerks, three drivers, one janitor and a gardener—were suspended from their jobs on Tuesday for taking part in CDM.

A total of 26 staff from the Kayah State regional parliament office were also temporarily suspended from their jobs for involvement in the CDM. The Kayah State General Administration Department also announced the dismissal of 40 employees on Wednesday for their involvement in the movement.

The regime also issued an arrest warrant against Union Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement U Win Myat Aye, who was ousted by the coup, under the Penal Code’s Section 505(a) for “allegedly inciting his staff to participate in the CDM”.

Many doctors, nurses and others in the country’s health sector who have been on strike as part of the CDM have also been targeted. Four medical superintendents at hospitals in Kyauktaga Township, Bago Region face arrest after warrants were issued under the Penal Code’s Section 505(a) accusing them of intimidation for their involvement in the CDM, according to the AAPP. The four doctors went into hiding to evade arrest and continue the CDM.

A doctor’s assistant in Yedashe Township and a member of the Yedashe Township municipal committee in Bago Region also went into hiding after arrest warrants were issued by the regime under Section 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Law for joining the ongoing movement.

Meanwhile, Ingapu Township Court in Ayeyarwady Region rejected bail for Dr. Pyae Phyo Naing, a doctor at Maezale Gone Township Hospital involved in the CDM. He was forcibly taken into detention while performing a minor operation on a patient at his philanthropic clinic on Feb. 11.

He was charged under Section 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Law on Wednesday, accused of leading a gathering of 3,600 people. The charge carries a punishment of up to three years’ imprisonment.

His wife, Dr. Phyu Lei Thu, told The Irrawaddy that the family does not yet know his whereabouts. She is worried about her husband’s health and that his daily medication will be interrupted.

On Tuesday, five staff members of the Ayeyarwady regional parliament office who joined the CDM against the junta were also suspended from their jobs. The suspension order stated that the staff failed to perform their duties without due cause.

One of them told DVB news outlet, “We do CDM [because) I don’t want to work under an illegal government. I can’t obey their orders. I am not afraid of losing my job.”

Nine women and two men from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who were arrested at around 4 a.m. on Feb. 18 in Naypyitaw for taking part in the strike have also been charged with incitement under Section 505(a) of the Penal Code.

In some neighborhoods, residents have prevented people in plainclothes claiming to be police officers from arresting striking civil servants. But more than 40 protesters have been detained across the country, according to the AAPP. Teachers, doctors, engineers and managers from Myanmar’s Department of Civil Aviation were among the detainees.

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