Myanmar doctors protest against coup that ousted Suu Kyi

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Staff at scores of government hospitals across Myanmar stopped work on Wednesday or wore red ribbons in shows of protest against the military coup that ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and cut short a transition to democracy.

The civil disobedience campaign is one of the first signs of public opposition to the military takeover on Monday, which drew fresh condemnation from the United States and other Western countries at a G7 meeting.

The newly formed Myanmar Civil Disobedience Movement said in a statement doctors at 70 hospitals and medical departments in 30 towns had joined the protest. It accused the army of putting its interests above people’s hardships during a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 3,100 people in Myanmar, one of the highest tolls in Southeast Asia.

“We really cannot accept this,” said 49-year-old Myo Myo Mon, who was among the doctors who stopped work to protest.

“We will do this in a sustainable way, we will do it in a non-violent way … This is the route our state counselor desires,” she said, referring to Suu Kyi by her title.

Reuters was unable to reach the government for comment on the civil disobedience campaign which also won support from student and youth groups.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party said in a statement that its offices had been raided in several regions and urged authorities to stop what it called unlawful acts after its victory in a Nov. 8 election.

Army chief Min Aung Hlaing seized power before the new parliament’s first sitting on Monday on the grounds of fraud in the election, which the electoral commission had said was fair.

NEW RULING COUNCIL

Consolidating its hold, the junta unveiled a new governing council including eight generals. It resembled the ruling apparatus under previous juntas that had ruled Myanmar for nearly half a century until 2011.

Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi, 75, remains in detention despite international calls for her immediate release. An NLD official said he had learned she was under house arrest in the capital, Naypyidaw, and was in good health.

The latest coup is a massive blow to hopes the impoverished country of 54 million people was on the path to stable democracy.

The Group of Seven largest developed economies condemned the coup and said the election result must be respected.

“We call upon the military to immediately end the state of emergency, restore power to the democratically-elected government, to release all those unjustly detained and to respect human rights and the rule of law,” the G7 said in a statement.

In Japan, thousands of demonstrators from Myanmar demanded a harder stance against the coup.

China has not specifically condemned the coup in its neighbour but the foreign ministry rejected the suggestion that it supported or gave tacit consent to it.

“We wish that all sides in Myanmar can appropriately resolve their differences and uphold political and social stability,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a briefing.

At the United Nations on Tuesday, its special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, urged the Security Council to “collectively send a clear signal in support of democracy in Myanmar”.

The council is negotiating a possible statement that would condemn the coup, call for the military to respect the rule of law and human rights, and immediately release those unlawfully detained, diplomats said. Consensus is needed in the 15-member council for such statements.

UN CONSENSUS DIFFICULT

A diplomat with China’s U.N. mission said it would be difficult to reach consensus on the draft statement and that any action should avoid “escalating the tension or further complicating the situation”.Slideshow ( 5 images )

U.S. President Joe Biden has threatened to reimpose sanctions on the generals who seized power.

U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tried but was unable to connect to Myanmar’s military following the coup.

Suu Kyi endured about 15 years of house arrest between 1989 and 2010 as she led the country’s democracy movement.

The military had ruled from 1962 until her party came to power in 2015 under a constitution that guarantees the generals a major role in government.

Her international standing as a human rights champion was badly damaged over the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims in 2017 and her defence of the military against accusations of genocide.

U.N. diplomats say they are concerned for the future of the Rohingya minority still in Myanmar as well as hundreds of thousands of refugees in neighbouring Bangladesh.

“If we go back now, there is no security for our lives and property. We need help from the U.N. We can’t go back alone,” said Rohingya refugee, Absarul Zaman, at a camp in Bangladesh.

Reuters

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