Burma

Myanmar Surgeon Arrested by Junta Dies After Contracting COVID-19 in Prison

By The Irrawaddy 9 August 2021

A 45-year-old surgical lecturer from Mandalay arrested by the military regime in June died of COVID-19 at a local hospital on Sunday after becoming infected with the coronavirus in prison.

Dr. Maung Maung Nyein Tun, a lecturer at the Department of Surgery in Mandalay University of Medicine, and his wife Dr. Swe Zin Oo, a specialist at Mandalay Hospital, were arrested by the junta on June 13 in Maha Aungmyay Township.

Dr. Swe Zin Oo has reportedly also been infected with the coronavirus in prison.

The striking couple were charged with incitement under Section 505-A of the Penal Code for refusing to work under the military regime. The regime amended Section 505-A in mid-February and many pro-democracy supporters have been charged under that section. Anyone found guilty of the charge could be sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.

The military regime also accused the two of having ties to the National Unity Government (NUG), a shadow government designated by the junta as a terrorist group, and its parliamentary committee, and charged them under Section 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act and Section 124 of the Penal Code for high treason.

In its reports of the arrest, the military described the couple as fugitives. Dr. Maung Maung Nyein Tun’s mother confirmed that he died early Sunday morning after suffering a serious case of COVID-19.

Junta mouthpiece Myawaddy TV called the couple fugitives in its report.

The lecturer did not receive timely treatment after he was infected with the coronavirus in Mandalay’s Obo Prison, but was sent to Mandalay Hospital after his situation got worse, said sources close to him.

Dr. Zaw Wai Soe from the NUG wrote on social media that the military regime was responsible for all the tragedies happening in Myanmar including the death of Dr. Maung Maung Nyein Tun. The regime would be brought to trial for its crimes against humanity, he said.

Health professionals from Mandalay released a statement of condolence for Dr. Maung Maung Nyein Tun, saying he would be remembered as a martyr for his bravery and sacrifices in the face of military rule. They also vowed to continue to fight until a new federal democratic country emerges.

The military regime has drawn criticism for arresting volunteers and doctors who are helping COVID-19 patients independently of its anti-coronavirus efforts, while urging them to join hands with it to curb the pandemic.

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.

The junta has arrested at least 157 health workers including Dr. Htar Htar Lin, the former national immunization director at the now junta-controlled Ministry of Health and Sports, and charged them with incitement. The regime has accused Dr. Htar Htar Lin of misappropriating COVID-19 vaccination funds.


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