Breaking News
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

Myanmar military accused of arresting doctors while COVID-19 infections rise

CoronavirusJul 22, 2021 08:07AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
3/3 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Volunteers pray in front of bodies of people who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during their funeral at a cemetery in Mandalay, Myanmar July 14, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo 2/3

(Reuters) - Angered by doctors' support for anti-junta protests, Myanmar's military has arrested several doctors treating COVID-19 patients independently, colleagues and media said, as the health system struggles to cope with a record wave of infections.

Since the military overthrew the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi in February, the ensuing turmoil and protests have thrown Myanmar's COVID-19 response into chaos, as activists say scores of doctors have been arrested for their prominent role in a civil disobedience movement.

Myanmar registered on Thursday over 6,000 new COVID-19 infections after reporting 286 deaths a day earlier, both record highs. Medics and funeral services say the real death toll is far higher, with crematoriums unable to keep pace.

To help people who either refuse to go to a state hospital, because of opposition to the military, or find hospitals are too strapped to treat them, some doctors participating in the anti-junta campaign have offered free medical advice over the telephone, and visited the sick at home in some cases.

But according to doctors and media reports in the past few weeks nine volunteer doctors offering tele-medicine and other services have been detained by the military in Myanmar's two largest cities - Yangon and Mandalay.

The information team of the army-led State Administration Council issued a statement denying reports that five doctors had been arrested in Yangon, but omitted any reference to the alleged arrests in Mandalay, which included doctors active in the civil disobedience movement.

All telephone calls from Reuters to a spokesman for the junta were unanswered.

A doctor, who asked not to be named for fear of being targeted by the military authorities, said four of his colleagues from the "Medical Family - Mandalay group" had been arrested.

They included Kyaw Kyaw Thet, who had been tutoring medical students, and senior surgeon Thet Htay, who the doctor said witnesses had seen handcuffed and bruised before being led away on July 16.

Their group was set up to advise virus sufferers over the telephone how to breathe, how to use an oxygen concentrator, which medicines to buy and how to administer them.

"We have been giving medical treatment to hundreds of patients per day," the doctor said, adding that many more of those patients could have died if they had not been attended to.

Media reports from Yangon, which have been denied by the junta, said three doctors from a COVID-19 response group were arrested after being lured to a home by soldiers pretending to need treatment. The junta also denied Myanmar News portal reportthat security forces had arrested two doctors during a followup raid on their offices in the North Dagon district of Yangon.

The National Unity Government, set up as a shadow body by army opponents, and media reports had also accused security forces of taking oxygen cylinders, protective wear and medicine for their own use during those raids.


It was unclear why any of the doctors would have been detained, but the military has arrested medical staff previously for their conspicuous support for the civil disobedience movement.

An activist group, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, has said hundreds of doctors who joined the anti-junta campaign have been charged with spreading false news and 73 have been arrested.

The consequent shortage of staff at hospitals and clinics has added to public mistrust of the junta.

A junta spokesman urged people last week to cooperate with the government in order to overcome the epidemic. And according to some doctors, the latest arrests could be an attempt to force people to rely more on the military authorities.

Denying the reported arrests in Yangon, the military administration referred to information about COVID-19 patients being secretly treated and charged high prices or being directed to online cures, adding that lives were being lost unnecessarily.

Yanghee Lee, a former U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar now on an advisory council, has accused the junta of "weaponising COVID-19 for its own political gain."

Myanmar military accused of arresting doctors while COVID-19 infections rise

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email