Burma

Myanmar Regime Jails Doctor for Working at Free Clinic and Teaching Medicine Online

By The Irrawaddy 2 September 2022

A Myanmar junta court has sentenced a Mandalay doctor known for his good works to ten years in prison on two charges, according to Mandalay medical sources.

Dr. Kyaw Kyaw Thet was sentenced to seven years under Section 52(a) of the Counterterrorism Law on August 30, having already been given three years in May for incitement under Section 505(a) of the Penal Code.

The 30-year-old physician has worked in free clinics and as a teacher since graduating from the University of Medicine in Mandalay.

Junta troops raided Dr. Kyaw Kyaw Thet’s house on July 13, 2021, firing a shot as they did so. The doctor was beaten, before being detained along with his cousin.

Both men were tortured while being interrogated at the military base at Mandalay Palace. Dr. Kyaw Kyaw Thet’s cousin was released, but the doctor was sent to Mandalay’s Obo Prison and charged with incitement and under the Counterterrorism Law for allegedly having links with the civilian National Unity Government and for teaching medical lessons online.

A striking doctor from Mandalay said: “He treated patients both in person and online during the third wave of COVID-19. And he also taught medical students online. One of the reasons why the military charged him is because he taught medical students. Our country is the only country in the world where one can be arrested for teaching.”

Dr. Kyaw Kyaw Thet entered Mandalay’s University of Medicine in 2010 and was one of the most outstanding students of his year. He did not work in public hospitals, but instead worked as a social activist, treating patients at free clinics and engaging in works of philanthropy.

A Mandalay lawyer said: “Regarding political cases going through the current judicial system, defendants are given the maximum punishments allowed by the law, whether they are guilty or not. For example, if the maximum punishment for incitement is three years, they are given three years. Dr. Kyaw Kyaw Thet was given the maximum punishment for the charges filed against him.”

Striking doctors are still being arrested by the military regime. A 40-year-old striking pediatrics doctor from Mandalay’s Central Women’s Hospital was detained on August 21 and sent to the interrogation center at Mandalay Palace, where her situation is unknown. The junta has also pressured private hospitals in Mandalay not to hire striking healthcare workers.

Since last year’s coup, 564 striking health workers have been detained by the regime and 36 killed, according to a report in May this year from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Rights group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said that the junta has issued arrest warrants for over 600 healthcare workers, and also detained 221 medical students.

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