Myanmar Junta Releases Detained Doctors and Civil Servants

By The Irrawaddy 3 August 2021

The military regime released a number of detained civil servants on Monday, including a few doctors who were arrested for their participation in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM).  However, hundreds of government employees and medics remain detained in prisons.

One of the well-known names freed was Dr. Than Min Htut, the medical superintendent of Pathein Hospital in Ayeyarwady Region.

“He was released around 6am on Monday and is in good health,” a friend of Dr. Than Min Htut told The Irrawaddy.

Dr. Than Min Htut, a prominent figure in Ayeyarwady Region medical circles, spent more than four months behind bars in Pathein’s jail.

He was summoned to the office of the junta’s regional administration council on March 12 for a meeting and was then arrested by special branch officers, after he refused the regime’s order to reopen Pathein Hospital, whose doctors and nurses were on strike.

A total of 27 doctors, administrators and civil servants were reportedly released in Ayeyarwady Region on Monday.

The medical superintendent of a local cottage hospital in Ingapu Township, Dr. Pyae Phyo Naing, was released from Hinthada Prison on Monday, his wife told The Irrawaddy.

Dr. Pyae Phyo Naing was arrested by junta police at his house on February 11 and charged under the Natural Disaster Management Law after he led anti-regime protests.

In Yangon, around 20 doctors and government employees were reportedly released from Insein Prison, including U Aung Aung Naing Myint, the rector of the National University of Arts and Culture (Yangon), who had been detained since May 3.

The military regime did not specify how many detainees were released nationwide on Monday.

The junta has opened cases against and issued arrest warrants for hundreds of doctors who are refusing to work under military rule.

Some 400 doctors and 180 nurses are the subject of arrest warrants for their participation in the CDM, according to the US-based Physicians for Human Rights.

Between the Feb. 1 coup and July 6, at least 157 healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses and medical students, were arrested, while 12 were killed and 32 wounded in anti-regime protests, the group said. Many more health workers are still taking part in the CDM.

Coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has been urging striking healthcare staff to return to work since a few weeks after his coup, citing surging COVID-19 cases across the country.

But the junta has not dropped charges against healthcare workers and has arrested doctors who are treating coronavirus patients independently of the regime’s efforts.

In July, five volunteer doctors were arrested while working for a community-based COVID-19 prevention and charity group in Yangon’s North Dagon Township, after they were lured to a house by a fake COVID-19 emergency.

National immunization director Dr. Htar Htar Lin and another 26 doctors were arrested in early June and charged under article 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act and with incitement under article 505(a) of the Penal Code for allegedly assisting the shadow National Unity Government.

As of Monday, a total of 5,474 people, including 70 healthcare workers, remain in detention and 1,964 are in hiding evading arrest warrants, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

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