More than 100 healthcare professionals in Myanmar charged over work stoppage protests


More than 100 healthcare workers in Myanmar have been charged by the military junta for their refusal to return to government hospitals in protest of the violent crackdown on dissent over the Feb 01 coup.

The junta charged the healthcare professionals for taking part in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), a nationwide campaign whereby blue and white collar workers from government bodies refuse to work under the military regime.

Among those charged included experienced government doctors and specialists for violating Section 505 (A) of Myanmar’s penal code for spreading dissent against the military.

Tens of thousands of physicians nationwide are participating in the CDM, with many still providing cares to the people through unofficial channels.

“As doctors, we want to provide medical treatment to the sick. We have gone through many years of schooling to study to become doctors,” a doctor facing charges for her participation in the CDM told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

“The military’s arrests of doctors make it impossible for us to continue working. What has happened is unacceptable from any point of view, whether it is from a medical or human rights standpoint,” she said.

The doctor, who requested anonymity for security reasons, worked at the 500-bed hospital in the western city of Sittwe. She is currently in hiding to avoid arrest and has been providing medical advice over the phone since refusing to work in the government-run facility.

Tay Za San, a medical doctor and protest leader in Myanmar’s second-largest city Mandalay, told RFA that the doctors’ refusal to work was a means to treat the country itself.

“We are not sitting at home. Doctors and other medical personnel are joining in anti-military protest movements and helping people who need medical treatment from wherever we can,” Tay Za San said

“They have even joined protesters on the ground and picked up the bodies of those killed an injured. We are not just sitting at home relaxing,” he said.

Myanmar has about 30,000 physicians, approximately 20,000 of whom work in government hospitals. Of those, an estimated 75% are participants in the CDM movement.

The junta has arrested more than 30 medical doctors for their involvement in the CDM. The military has killed four healthcare workers including a medical student.

A physician from the country’s largest city Yangon told RFA on condition of anonymity that the junta’s security forces have opened fire on hospitals and threatened medical personnel with weapons.

“We were forced at gunpoint to write false reports. For example, there was a protester on a motorcycle who they shot and killed, we were forced to write a death certificate that said he was killed in a motorcycle accident,” the physician said.

“For a man whose ribs were broken in brutal beatings, we were forced to write a report that said he broke his ribs by falling off a ladder,” said the physician.

Among the 100 with arrest warrants are doctors from a 1,000-bed hospital in the captial Naypyidaw’s Zabuthiri township who gave medical treatment to the first protester shot by security forces following the coup, Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing.

Police shot her in the head on Feb. 19 while she took part in protests. She died in the hospital later. Though the junta said of the incident that it had fired only rubber bullets, the medical team at the hospital said her injuries were from live ammunition.

Despite junta threats and pressure, medical personnel involved in the CDM have declared that they will not return to work until a popularly elected civilian government returns to power. (Source: RFA)