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Myanmar regime’s thugs target doctors and clinics aiding the wounded

REPORT-1.07

Early Saturday morning, troops of Myanmar’s military regime stormed into a doctor’s home in Mayangone Township of Yangon region and arbitrarily arrested the physician. His hands were tied behind his back, a black bag was put over his head and he was dragged away from his residence by soldiers and police, according to a witness.

The arrested man was orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kyaw Min Soe, a professor at University of Medicine, Yangon, who has been involved in the civil disobedience movement (CDM).

As they abducted the doctor, the soldiers and police swore at residents, destroyed closed-circuit TV cameras and threatened those present with guns. “Who dared to take the picture?” they asked.

“The way they arrested Sayargyi [a respected professor] is totally unacceptable. He was arrested like a criminal,” a doctor close to Dr. Kyaw Min Soe said.

The professor had been providing medical treatment to those injured in anti-regime protests. Some assumed that he was targeted because of that.

Some speculated it may also have been because of his close relationship with Dr. Zaw Wai Soe, a prominent figure in the CDM who has been appointed as an acting minister of three ministries by the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), Myanmar’s shadow government.

Doctors and healthcare workers who walked off the job as part of the CDM set up charity clinics for those needed emergency treatment and went undercover to treat patients wounded during crackdowns on anti-regime protests. Many public hospitals are closed because of the CDM. The popular movement was launched by medics and was later followed by other government workers nationwide, refusing to work under the men in uniform in an effort to make the country impossible for the regime to govern.

Frustrated with the failure of their violent crackdown to deter people from protesting, soldiers and police have using lethal force in search of protesters to arrest, dragging them out of hiding and beat them before taking them away.

Mobile medical teams and secret medical clinics giving treatment to wounded anti-regime demonstrators have been increasingly targeted with violence and arrests.

On Monday, soldiers and police raided a charity clinic in Sanchaung Township and arrested four volunteer medical staff members: Dr. Aung Kyaw Oo, Dr. Soe San Phyo, Dr. Chan Myae Zaw, and Ma Khin Su Su Tun. They also arrested five other volunteers.

On Friday, Dr. Nay Myo, a physician providing free medical treatment, was detained by plainclothes police in Bago region, after leaving his clinic.

“They were arrested while treating the patients. Is it a crime for doctors and nurses to save patients’ lives?” a doctor wrote on her Facebook account, calling for the immediate release of the detained medics.

A number of healthcare facilities in several areas including in Yangon and Mandalay were also raided and attacked last month.

One doctor, speaking anonymously to protect his security, told The Irrawaddy that regardless of the threats posed against them, the medics will continue their work helping those in need of treatment.

“If we don’t cure the patients who else will cure them? The soldiers blocked the hospitals to prevent from reopening and accepting the wounded anti-regime protesters. [They] raided and harassed the healthcare facilities. We can’t accept that. We won’t stop what we are doing whatever they threaten,” he said.

At least 11 other striking doctors—including Dr. Than Min Htut (Pindaya Mee Eain Shin), administrator of Pathein Township Hospital, Dr Pyae Phyo Naing, a doctor at Maezale Gone hospital, and Dr. Wai Wai Aye, a senior consultant chest physician—were arrested over the past two months. Many of them are still being held in detention.

Several medical students and medical affiliated university students were also detained by the regime for their active participation in anti-coup protests.

Soldiers and police raided a charity clinic in Sanchaung Township, Yangon, on April 5. They arrested medical volunteers and seized emergency medical equipment.

 The regime has also issued warrants for a number of prominent doctors in the CDM, including Dr. Zaw Wai Soe, Dr. Khin Maung Lwin who is the rector of the University of Medicine Mandalay and Dr. Wai Wai Oo, the superintendent of a 300-bed hospital in Mandalay.

Hundreds of doctors who are actively involved in the CDM or leading the movement have gone into hiding to evade arrest.

A 17-year-old first year medical student Khant Nyar Hein in Yangon, a doctor Phyo Thant Wai in Mandalay, an assistant surgeon Dr. Thiha Tin Tun in Mandalay, and a 20-year-old nursing student Ma Thinzar Hein in Sagaing are among the estimated 570 people killed by regime forces.