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The Myanmar medics on the military's hitlist

Telegraph, 14 Sep 2021
Frontline medics around the world have been hailed as heroes for their struggle against the Covid-19 pandemic but in Myanmar, they are denounced by the regime as traitors and hunted down.

Health workers have been at the top of the junta’s hitlist since the military overthrew the Southeast Asian nation’s democratic government in February and medics walked out of government hospitals, joining a “civil disobedience” movement in protest.

According to the US-based Physicians for Human Rights group, there were at least 252 attacks and threats against health workers and their facilities during the first six months of the junta's crackdown on pro-democracy supporters.

The survey, conducted with Johns Hopkins University and released in August, said 25 health workers were killed, 37 injured, 190 arrested and that hospitals were raided at least 86 times and occupied in 55 different incidents. 

Hundreds of doctors are in hiding from the regime, many of whom are treating patients in underground clinics, at great risk of punishment and without vital medical supplies.

One doctor who spoke to The Telegraph anonymously from his safehouse in August - see the video interview above - said medics and their families lived in constant fear of detention.

Health workers faced the prospect every day of being tortured or shot as they tried to reach and treat patients, he said.

“Last night in Yangon, there were five doctors arrested because they are seen treating Covid-19 positive patients. When did it become a sin to save lives?” he asked.

“If we don’t work at the government hospital it’s not a crime... We take care of our patients, just not at a government hospital,” he said.

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