Bangkok, Apr 22 (EFE).- Myanmar’s military junta opened legal proceedings against 160 doctors in the last week, accused of refusing to work as a form of protest against the Feb. 1 coup.
In the first days following the coup, health personnel promoted the strikes, which have been joined by workers from the public and private sectors, paralyzing the country and defying the military.
The junta began a legal battle against striking doctors Tuesday by announcing the prosecution of 19 professionals, including a Health Ministry official, for encouraging other workers to stop serving in opposition to the junta.
The number of accused doctors has since increased to 160, according to data from the civil disobedience movement, which said the list would likely continue to grow in coming days, including medical supervisors, specialist doctors and assistants. They have all begun strikes in public hospitals of big cities such as Yangon and Mandalay.
The regime accused medical personnel of violating Article 505 (b) of the Penal Code, which punishes actions that spread fear, spread false news, or incite someone directly or indirectly to a criminal offense against a government employee.
If convicted, these health workers would face sentences of up to three years in prison.
According to sources from the white coat strike movement, 6,000 doctors have stopped working, representing 60 percent of those employed in public health.
“We estimate that two thirds of the country’s hospitals are completely closed,” they told EFE.
On the other hand, the Red Cross said earlier this month that workers of its organization in Myanmar have been arrested and intimidated and have been injured while tending to wounded protesters at the hands of security forces.
According to the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners of Myanmar, at least 739 people have been killed by the military junta’s repression and 3,331 are under arrest and arrest warrants have been issued against 1,059 others.
The military justifies the coup on alleged fraud in November’s elections, in which the party led by Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide victory, as it did in 2015, with the endorsement of international observers. EFE