Staff at dozens of hospitals in Myanmar stopped working on Wednesday as part of a growing campaign of civil disobedience, one of the first organized acts of defiance against the army after it toppled the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Health workers at 70 hospitals and medical departments in Naypyidaw, Yangon and other towns and cities said they would not work under the military regime, accusing the generals of putting their own priorities before those of ordinary people during the pandemic.
“We refused to obey any order from the illegitimate military regime that showed that they have no respect for our poor patients,” organizers said.
A Facebook page that coordinated the campaign amassed nearly 150,000 followers in just 24 hours. “They will not stop this movement until the elected government is restored,” said Kyaw, a surgeon at West Yangon General Hospital who went on strike.
“I am upset about being separated from patients, but I have no regrets, knowing that I did everything I could to help fight the pandemic,” he said, adding that he had resigned from the government hospital where he worked.
Instead, doctors treat patients in their homes and in private clinics. The Burma Student Federation union has also urged other government workers to strike.
There have been no reports of street demonstrations against the army, but anger is simmering among the public, who lived under repressive military regimes for five decades before agreeing to share power in 2011.
On Wednesday night, the clanking of pots and pans echoed through the main city of Yangon as people marched to their balconies in a symbolic protest against the military. On social media, many took red profile photos to show their allegiance to Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent nearly 15 years in detention while campaigning against the military government before being released in 2010. In Myanmar, she is widely revered as a heroine. of democracy. , despite international condemnation for his treatment of the Rohingya.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, called for his release and urged the military to recognize the results of the November elections, which the NLD overwhelmingly won.
The military detained Aung San Suu Kyi in morning raids on Monday, hours before the opening of parliament. He has accused the NLD of electoral fraud, a claim that observers have dismissed as fabricated.
The United States, which has formally declared the military takeover of power a coup, has threatened to reimpose sanctions, while countries around the world have demanded the release of detainees and the army’s resignation from power. .
However, at a UN security council meeting on Tuesday, China and Russia blocked a statement condemning the coup and calling for its reversal, while India and Vietnam also expressed reservations.
China and Russia previously undermined attempts to pressure Myanmar for atrocities against the Rohingya in 2017, when a military crackdown forced 700,000 people to flee to safety in Bangladesh. In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where they remain trapped, refugees said they were even more afraid to return now that the army is in full control.
“The military killed us, raped our sisters and mothers, burned our villages. How is it possible that we stay safe under your control? “Khin Maung, director of the Rohingya Youth Association in Cox’s Bazar district camps, told the Associated Press.” It will take a long time because the political situation in Myanmar is worse now. “
Louis Charbonneau, UN director for Human Rights Watch, said the fact that the security council does not condemn the army will embolden its leaders to “feel they can engage in horrible abuses and pay little or no cost.”
The army has claimed that the coup is in line with the country’s constitution, and army chief Min Aung Hlaing, now head of a new cabinet, yesterday defended the action as “inevitable.” Civilian leaders, he said, had not listened to the army’s complaints about electoral fraud.
As public action has emerged to resist the military, the military has issued a warning in the state-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.
“Some of the media organizations and individuals are posting rumors on social media, posting statements about unrest and unstable situations,” the statement read in English. He called on the people “not to make such moves and to cooperate with the government in accordance with existing laws.”
Many were quick to download the Bridgefy offline messaging app, which was used during pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2020, after phone and internet services went down earlier in the week. The company said its app had been downloaded more than 1 million times in Myanmar this week.
The military has a dismal record of using anti-violence to stifle dissent, and protesting against it carries enormous risks.
A Yangon-based human rights activist said she believed other government workers would join the civil disobedience action. “The numbers will grow, it is growing now,” he said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism