Myanmar arrests 18 medical students for treating pro-democracy, anti-junta groups

Activists stand in front of the prison in Yangon on April 21, 2018. (Photo by LIANHE ZAOBAO/AFP/Getty Images)

Myanmar troops arrested 18 medical students and started an investigation on Saturday after they were suspected of treating members of ethnic minority organizations that are anti-junta or pro-democracy, The Associated Press reported.

“The Myanmar army detained 18 medical students today at their Yangon school on suspicion that they have unlawfully practiced medicine, including for the cause of pro-democracy and anti- junta activities,” Maw Maw Oo, head of the Medical Students’ Association at theYangon UniversityPublicCollege, told AFP on Saturday, in an interview in the school’s compound.

Officials from the Military and the Police arrested 18 medical students and started investigations into their private hospital

“This is one of the worst attempts by the Army to control the media and put the student journalists in prison like we have seen under the military regime. They will not be safe in prison, it will be an extremely difficult and degrading experience,” Pawel Swidlicki, an Amnesty International researcher, told the wire service.

Myanmar police said this week that they would investigate people with ties to pro-democracy and anti-junta groups, including the party of former president Thein Sein. It comes after the military and the police in November suppressed the pro-democracy protests in the city of Yangon led by Buddhist monks. The military has maintained tight control over government, media, and private businesses since a brutal military crackdown against the nation’s 1.3 million Rohingya Muslim minority in August 2017, which killed more than 800,000 people and uprooted 700,000 from their homes.

Activists, who gathered outside the military prison where the detainees were being held, said they were accused of distributing medical information to support pro-democracy groups or to help pro-democracy protesters. Those students arrested, Amnesty said, were students working on research projects or volunteering at hospitals.

Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate who spent 15 years under house arrest, has been publicly accused of failing to speak out against the military-backed government. She only acknowledged that the Rohingya had suffered “massive injustices” on May 11, a two-month delay after most of the civilians who lived in the camps were released.

The student student activists were arrested during a call by Yaung Yaung Soe, a Buddhist monk who on Tuesday called on Aung San Suu Kyi to assert the country’s military-controlled constitution. “You are Burma, not Myanmar,” Yaung Yaung Soe told reporters as he made the call. He said the US-educated Suu Kyi would be a “daughter of the generals if she does not speak the truth.”

Read the full story at The Associated Press.


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