Doctors must stop being targeted in Myanmar

12 Jul 2021

The AMA says it fears Myanmar is headed for a humanitarian disaster unless doctors and health workers are allowed to treat citizens without fear of arrest and death.

Myanmar Doctors Association streetscape

 Since a military coup on 1 February many doctors in Myanmar have been detained and targeted for treating people injured in the ongoing violence.

According to latest reports from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners – Burma, 870 protesters, bystanders and other civilians, including many children, have been killed by Myanmar security forces, while close to 5000 people have been arrested since the coup.

The United Nations General Assembly has called on countries to stop selling arms to Myanmar and has condemned the use of lethal force and violence in the country.

President of the AMA, Dr Omar Khorshid said private clinics and medical personnel carrying out emergency treatment and ambulances have been shot at without any reason. “Doctors are among the thousands who have been detained and there are reports of torture and deaths in custody. Some doctors have been forced to flee their homes to hide from the military regime,” he said.  

"The situation is intolerable. The violence is horrific and has thrown the country and health system into chaos at a time when the highly transmissible variant of COVID-19, the Delta strain, is taking hold.  

“Latest media reports from the country say daily cases of COVID-19 are now reaching up to 3000.

“Myanmar’s state media has also reported the head of the country’s Covid vaccination program, Dr Htar Htar Lin, has been arrested. This is yet another tragedy for the country and its people,” Dr Khorshid said.

Dr Khorshid said the AMA called on the Myanmar military to listen to, and act on demands issued by the World Medical Association to:  

  • Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of protesters, including health personnel who are arrested.
  • Release protesters and personnel immediately and unconditionally and drop all charges against them since their detention is arbitrary as it only aims at preventing freedom of expression and their human rights activities.
  • Put an urgent end to attacks against health personnel and facilities and ensure their protection to provide adequate health care provisions to all.
  • Stop all acts of harassment, intimidation, and killing, of protesters, human rights defenders and journalists and comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
  • Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and
  • Cooperate with international fact-finding commissions.