Activists allege Myanmar leaders are ‘weaponizing’ COVID-19 – Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii 2021-07-30 02:15:00 –

Inhabitants and human rights activists claim that the military junta, which took control in February, is using a pandemic to strengthen its power and crush opposition as the number of deaths from the coronavirus increases in Bangkok >> Myanmar. Is rising from.

Last week, Myanmar’s per capita mortality rate exceeded that of Indonesia and Malaysia, making it the worst in Southeast Asia. The country’s crippled health care system is rapidly overwhelmed by new patients with COVID-19 illness.

Due to the lack of medical oxygen supply, the government has restricted private sales in many places, saying it is trying to prevent hoarding. However, it led to widespread claims that the stock was directed to government supporters and military-run hospitals.

At the same time, health care workers were targeted after leading a civil disobedience movement that urged experts and civil servants not to cooperate with the government known as the State Administration Council.

“They stopped distributing personal protective equipment and masks, did not allow civilians suspected of supporting the democratic movement to be treated in hospitals, and arrested doctors in support of the civil disobedience movement. We are doing it, “said Yanghee Lee of the United Nations. Former Myanmar human rights expert and founding member of the Myanmar Special Advisory Board.

“With oxygen, they banned sales to civilians and people not supported by SAC, so they are using something that can save people from people,” she said. “The military is weaponizing COVID.”

Myanmar’s Deputy Intelligence Minister Zaw Min Htun did not answer questions about the allegations, but leadership has launched a public relations attack as internal and external pressure to control the pandemic has increased.

In this week’s state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper, several articles highlight the government’s efforts, including the government’s efforts to resume vaccination and increase oxygen supply.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the head of government, reportedly said that efforts were also being made to seek support from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and unspecified “friendly countries.”

“Efforts must be made to ensure better health for the nation and its people,” he said.

Myanmar reported an additional 342 deaths and 5,234 new infections on Thursday. The average 7-day moving average per million people rose to 6.29. This is more than double the 3.04 rate in India at the peak of the crisis in May. Myanmar figures are considered to be significantly underestimated due to lack of testing and reporting.

“There is a big difference between the actual death toll from the military council’s COVID-19 and the reality,” a doctor at Mawlamyine General Hospital, Myanmar’s fourth-largest city, told The Associated Press, conditioned on anonymity for fear of the government. Told to. Retaliation. “There are many people in the area who have died of this disease and cannot be counted.”

The video is skyrocketing on social media, showing the deaths of virus victims at home due to lack of treatment and a long line of people waiting for oxygen supply to be available. The government has denied reports that the Yangon cemetery has been overwhelmed, but announced on Tuesday that it is building a new facility that can cremate up to 3,000 bodies per day.

“By making COVID-19 runaway, military junta is failing not only the Burmese people, but also the wider region and the world. A new variant fueled by an unidentified epidemic of the disease in places like Myanmar. Can be threatened by, “Phil said. Robertson, Deputy Director of Asia for Human Rights Watch. “The problem is that military junta is more interested in taking power than stopping the pandemic.”

Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in the region and was already vulnerable when the military seized power and caused a fierce political struggle.

Under former civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar overcame the coronavirus surge last year by severely restricting travel and blocking Yangon. Vaccines were obtained from India and China, but the Suu Kyi administration was expelled less than a week after the first shot.

Due to increased civil disobedience after Suu Kyi’s dismissal, public hospitals were basically closed, doctors and other staff refused to work under the new administration, and if arrested, a temporary clinic was arrested. Operated.

Some have returned to public hospitals, but the Mawlamyine doctor interviewed by AP said it was too dangerous.

“Whenever I return to the hospital, I can be arrested by military junta,” added a doctor who is part of the disobedience movement and is treating patients with the supplies he seeks.

According to Tom Andrews, an independent UN Human Rights Council expert on human rights in Myanmar, government forces have launched at least 260 attacks on medical personnel and facilities, killing 18 people. At least 67 medical professionals have been detained and an additional 600 have been detained. I asked.

The military hospital continued to operate after Suu Kyi’s expulsion, but was shunned by many and the vaccination program was apparently slow to crawl before it completely disappeared until this week. There are no definitive figures for vaccination, but it is believed that about 3% of the population may have been vaccinated twice.

Joy Shinharu, head of the Red Cross’s Myanmar delegation, said the proliferation of COVID-19 illnesses was “extremely concerned about the limited availability of medical services and oxygen supplies. “.

“More tests, contact tracing, and COVID-19 vaccination are urgently needed to control the pandemic,” he told AP. “This recent surge is a pain for millions of people in Myanmar who are already dealing with worsening economic and social difficulties.”

Earlier this week, Andrews urged the UN Security Council and member states to promote a “COVID ceasefire.”

“The United Nations cannot afford to be complacent while military junta is ruthlessly attacking medical personnel, as COVID-19 spreads unchecked,” he said. “They must act to end this violence so that doctors and nurses can provide life-saving care and international organizations can help provide vaccinations and related medical care.”

After a long stagnation in humanitarian aid, China recently began providing vaccines. It reportedly sent 736,000 doses to Yangon this month, the first 2 million were donated, and more than 10,000 were donated to the Kachin Independence Army, which had rebelled for decades in the northern border region where the virus spilled into China. I am.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, declined to comment directly on reports of deliveries to KIA earlier this week, instead saying that “the epidemic is a common enemy of all humankind.”

Global New Light reported that Myanmar purchased another million times from China.

Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported to be widespread in prisons in Myanmar. On Wednesday, state-owned MRTV television announced that 610 prisoners from Insein Prison in Yangon had been vaccinated. This report was skeptical and ridiculed about social media.

Prime Minister Lee said it would be too late if the government positioned itself as a pandemic solution and was trying to take advantage of vaccines and other aid.

“People know now, and it was too long,” she said. “COVID wasn’t artificial, but it was out of balance due to collusion and deliberate disruption of service. There’s no turning back.”

Activists allege Myanmar leaders are ‘weaponizing’ COVID-19 Source link Activists allege Myanmar leaders are ‘weaponizing’ COVID-19

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