Myanmar Military Targets Striking Civil Servants

By The Irrawaddy 19 February 2021

Myanmar’s military has arrested nearly 30 civil servants in Naypyitaw, Mandalay and Kachin State this week for joining the civil disobedience movement (CDM) against the military regime.

In face of the growing resistance nationwide, the regime has stepped up the arrests of civil servants taking part in the movement.

In Naypyitaw, at least 20 civil servants were arrested this week. Nine women and two men from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were arrested at around 4am on Thursday for joining the CDM, said Naypyitaw-based lawyer U Kyaw Ye Aung, who is following the cases after the relatives of those detained contact him.

Seven women and a man from Naypyitaw’s Lewe Township Cooperative Department, ranking from junior clerk to officer, were arrested on Feb. 15 and charged under the Penal Code’s Article 188(b) for allegedly defying orders and released on bail.

The deputy director-general of the Ministry of Social Welfare was detained in Naypyitaw on Monday for his involvement in the CDM.

Two train drivers in Mandalay, who refused to drive a train for the military, were detained on Wednesday. A supervisor at a Myanma Railways locomotive factory in Yangon Region was arrested for refusing to work on Feb. 13.

A primary school headmaster in Myaungmya Township, Ayeyarwady Region, was arrested on Tuesday for his involvement in the CDM.

A placard in Mandalay. / The Irrawaddy

On Friday morning, security officers and the military beat teachers preparing to take part in protests in Myitkyina, Kachin State, and arrested two teachers from the Myitkyina Education Degree College. The teachers were released in the evening after mediation by the Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG), a Myitkyina-based organization. The released protesters said they were forced to sign papers saying they would not participate in future protests against the military regime.

Lawyer Daw San San Myint in Yangon, who is giving legal assistance to CDM activists, said the military has intensified its threats with detentions and lawsuits after pressure on civil servants to go back to work did not work.

“I would say regardless of which charges they brought against the CDM staff, they are the ones who breached the Constitution and the civil servants on the strike have done nothing that violated the law,” the lawyer said. “The CDM can topple [the military regime]. Our goal is not far away. I urge all CDM staff to keep striking,” said Daw San San Myint.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which is monitoring detentions, said between Feb. 8 and Friday afternoon, at least 45 civil servants were arrested.

Teachers, doctors, engineers and managers from Myanmar’s Department of Civil Aviation were among the detainees.

People in plainclothes claiming to be police officers have tried to detain striking doctors in Mandalay, Magwe, Naypyitaw and Shan State but have been stopped by residents.

Many striking civil servants have told The Irrawaddy they will carry on striking until the military hands power back to the democratically elected government.

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