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Myanmar military targeting medical professionals

The country’s healthcare system has always been totally inadequate, but it is now being systematically destroyed by the military

Myanmar military - WIKIPEDIA

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Medical professionals in Myanmar are being systematically targeted by the Myanmar military with killings, beatings, abductions and enforced disappearances.

The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M) continues to call for ‘three cuts’ against the military, immediate implementation of the Asean five-point consensus, and urgent mobilisation of resources for humanitarian assistance. 

For over three months, the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, has waged a campaign of terror against the people of Myanmar, after it launched its coup on 1 February. It has specifically targeted medical professionals, who are playing leading roles in the nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), central to the peaceful resistance against military rule.

The medical professionals say the country’s future is being destroyed.    

The police and security forces have used extreme violence and lethal force against peaceful protesters daily.

Doctors, medics and nurses are prevented from treating the wounded, resulting in many tragic deaths that could have been prevented. Instead of receiving treatment, the wounded are taken away with the dead by the security forces and left to die. Often times, families are not allowed to bury their dead family member. 

“One day without adequate health care is one more day with unnecessary and preventable deaths. The people dying are not just nobodies. They are our country’s future generations,” medical professionals told SAC-M. 

Medical sites, clinics and hospitals have been intentionally targeted and occupied by the security forces. The country’s healthcare system has always been totally inadequate, but it is now being systematically destroyed by the military. As a result, Myanmar is facing an unprecedented public health crisis. 

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Covid testing and treatment has collapsed in Myanmar. The Tatmadaw’s assault on medical professionals and the country’s healthcare system comes at a time when Myanmar’s neighbours, including India and Thailand, are contending with a dramatic surge in Covid cases.

The Tatmadaw’s actions are making a mockery of the immense regional and global efforts to defeat the pandemic over the past 18 months. No one knows how many are infected in Myanmar or how many have died. The vaccination rollout has ceased. 

Myanmar’s medical professionals say the military is emboldened by its impunity. They call on the international community to apply as much pressure on the military as possible.

SAC-M continues to call for a global ‘three cuts’ strategy: cut the arms supply through a comprehensive global arms embargo, cut the cash flow through targeted economic sanctions, and cut the military’s impunity through referral to the International Criminal Court. 

Asean must recognise the unique urgency of the situation and immediately act on implementing the five-point consensus that was agreed on 24 April. The Asean special envoy must be appointed with no further delay and arrange immediately to visit Myanmar. Every day without action further emboldens the Tatmadaw to continue committing atrocities against the people of Myanmar. 

 Finally, resources for a massive humanitarian effort must be mobilised. A comprehensive strategy, with a resourced implementation plan that addresses both the man-made humanitarian disaster in Myanmar and the political crisis at its core, is urgently needed. 

“Myanmar has been taken hostage by a weaponized terrorist group that has neither the will nor the ability to govern the country or serve the interests of the peoples of Myanmar,” SAC-M says.

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“Its leaders should be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. They seek to dispossess the people only to enrich themselves and protect their own personal, economic and business interests. In doing so, they are destroying Myanmar’s future.” 

Yanghee Lee is the former UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, who held the mandate from 2014 to 2020

Marzuki Darusman is the former chair of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFMM)

Chris Sidoti is a former member of the FFMM

In 2018, the FFMM called for the investigation and prosecution of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his top military leaders for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In 2019, the FFMM exposed the extent to which the Myanmar military uses its own businesses, foreign companies and arms deals to sustain its operations and called for immediate targeted sanctions and arms embargoes.

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