Myanmar’s Doctors Urge UN Action Against Military Junta

By The Irrawaddy 22 April 2021

After witnessing the military regime’s continuous targeted raids on doctors and healthcare facilities treating the wounded, Myanmar Doctors for Human Rights has asked the United Nation (UN) and international organizations to take meaningful measures against the junta.

In an open letter to Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the UN, Myanmar Doctors for Human Rights demanded that the UN stop the junta’s forces from intentionally targeting medical professionals providing care to the wounded and help the injured seek treatment without fear for their own safety. The group includes volunteer doctors and 15 medical students’ unions.

Since the Feb. 1 coup, the military regime has been conducting the deadly crackdowns on anti-regime demonstrations across Myanmar. Numerous atrocities have been committed against protesters and civilians by the junta’s forces during raids, arrests, and interrogations.

During the crackdowns, many wounded protesters have been arrested without being provided medical treatment. Meanwhile, in several instances the bodies of the dead have been taken away and not returned to the families.

Also, charity organizations and ambulances trying to pick up the bodies of those killed or provide medical assistance to the wounded have been fired upon or arrested by the regime’s forces.

In a shooting in Mandalay in late February, Ko Yarzar Aung, a 26-year-old protester, who was shot in the leg, died at a military hospital without being provided the proper treatment, a witness told The Irrawaddy.

A doctor from a charity group in the city, who tried to treat Ko Yarzar Aung, said that except for some minor treatment, the regime’s forces would not allow her to attend to wounded detainees before they were taken away.

The doctor said that Ko Yarzar Aung would not have died from his leg injuries if he had been treated properly.

In late March, the junta’s forces raided an office of a charity group comprised of several organizations in Mandalay giving treatment to the wounded, according to a social worker. The troops seized three ambulances and destroyed two others. They also seized clinic materials and arrested 26 social workers, including several medics.

A medical team conducts an operation on an injured protester at a house in Mandalay secretly

During an attack on anti-regime strongholds in Bago on April 9, when about 82 died in a massacre, the regime’s forces closed every entrance to four wards for days.

No ambulances and social organizations giving medical assistance and free funeral services were able to go into the wards to pick up the dead or give medical treatment to the wounded.

Myanmar Doctors for Human Rights said in its open letter to the UN that the military regime’s polices and soldiers are intentionally targeting medical treatment sites, charity clinics and hospitals providing critical care to the injured.

On April 5, the regime’s troop stormed the house of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kyaw Min Soe in Mayangone Township of Yangon and arrested the physician. They tied the doctor’s hands behind his back, and a black bag was put over his head.

The doctor, a professor at University of Medicine, Yangon, has been involved in the civil disobedience movement (CDM) and was also providing medical treatment to those injured in anti-regime protests.

On April 12, the regime’s forces arrested Dr. Maw Maw Oo, head of the Emergency Department of Yangon General Hospital, who had been providing medical care to the wounded even though he has joined the CDM.

Myanmar Doctors for Human Rights said that in some places, doctors have been forced to keep the lights off in order to prevent the junta’s forces from finding and arresting them. Working with just  torchlight, they have performed life saving operations.

Since last week, the military regime has been issuing arrest warrants for doctors in the CDM each night. As of Wednesday, 179 medics in the CDM have been charged.

“It is truly agonizing for us to see our fellow countrymen taking their last breaths in front of our very eyes,” said Myanmar Doctors for Human Rights.

It also said in its letter that by many lives which could otherwise have been saved have been unnecessarily lost because doctors have been forcibly prevented from providing essential medical care to the wounded.

After receiving the open letter, Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, tweeted on its Twitter account on Wednesday that the time for statements of concern has long passed.

“I was very moved by the letter I received from Myanmar Doctors for Human Rights,” he said.

He added now is the time for the UN to place human rights at the forefront and use every practical diplomatic tool available.

As of Wednesday, nearly 740 people have been killed by the junta’s forces during their crackdowns, raids, arrests and interrogations, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

Those killed include anti-regime protesters, bystanders, pedestrians and residents.

In spite of killing and arrests, tens of thousands of people across Myanmar continue to take to the streets to show their defiance of the military rule.

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