As It Happens

Doctor in Myanmar says he and his colleagues are being targeted for arrest

As his country is rocked by protests and bloody crackdowns, a doctor says he and his colleagues are being shot at and targeted for arrest.

He says healthcare workers are being shot as they collect people injured in protests

Doctors join a protest against the military coup in front of the Chinese Embassy on Feb. 12, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar. (Hkun Lat/Getty Images)

Story Transcript

A doctor in Myanmar says he and his colleagues are being targeted by the military as violence continues to mount in the wake of February's coup. 

The doctor, whose identity the CBC has agreed to protect, lives in the city of Mandalay and used to work at a government hospital.

He told As It Happens host Carol Off that arrest warrant lists are being put out daily with anywhere from a handful to hundreds of names on them, several of which have contained the names of medical colleagues and friends. 

"When I saw the names of my friends on the warrant list, I'm really afraid, because they are really in danger," he said.

On Feb. 1, military generals overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. 

In the weeks and months since, protests — followed by violent military-led crackdowns — have taken place across the country. 

As of Sunday, 706 protesters and bystanders have been killed, said the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which tracks casualties and arrests.

Doctors and health workers in Yangon take part in a demonstration in February against the military coup. (AFP via Getty Images)

Doctors aren't the only ones finding themselves on arrest lists: journalists, activists, artists and ordinary protesters have also been placed on the lists put out by the ruling junta. 

The doctor believes his colleagues are being targeted because of their role in the protest movement. In Mandalay, medical workers began marching daily almost immediately after the coup.  

"Medical people were the first ones in the civil disobedience movement," he said.

"That's why they are targeting the medical profession now." 

Doctors treating protesters face violence

The doctor now works at an underground clinic that treats people injured in protests. 

That clinic, he says, has now treated more than 100 people, the majority of them suffering from gunshot wounds. 

"Sometimes I feel really aggressive and angry because, almost all of the protesters, they're just doing peaceful protests. We have no weapons," he said.

The doctor said he's heard of instances where the military will also shoot ambulance crews as they collect the injured, even using casualties as bait to bring healthcare workers to a scene — and then shoot at them. 

Despite feeling the threat of one day seeing his own name on an arrest warrant list, he said he believes the protest movement should continue. 

Sometimes I feel really aggressive and angry because, almost all of the protesters, they're just doing peaceful protests.- Doctor in Myanmar

"From the military standpoint, I think they will continue to kill Myanmar citizens. Because they just want to put the fear into the mindset of Myanmar citizens," he said. 

"The civil disobedience movement should go on. I think it's the biggest weapon for us to fight back the military agenda."

Written by Kate McGillivray with files from the Associated Press. Interview produced by Jeanne Armstrong.

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