Thursday, January 22, 2009

Doctors behind Bars

To: International Medical Associations
Dear Sir/Madam,

We would be very grateful if you would support the campaign for freedom and democracy in Burma (Myanmar) by calling for the immediate healthcare access and release of jailed medical doctors and professionals, and all other political prisoners of conscience in Burma.

Burma is ruled by one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world; a dictatorship charged by the United Nations with " crime against humanity " for its systematic abuses of human rights in various forms.

It spends half of its annual national budget on the military while the population goes without access to proper healthcare, education and food. One in ten babies dies because of malnutrition before their fifth birthday. HIV and AIDS epidemic is out of control nation-wide.

In terms of democratisation process in Burma, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won the 1990 general election, which was arranged by the military junta, with a landslide victory. The NLD party is led by Nobel Peace laureate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who herself is under house arrest for more than ten years during the past two decades till date. The regime refused to acknowledge the election results and hand over the administrative power to the NLD – instead, unleashed a new wave of oppression. There are more than one thousand political prisoners, and many have been routinely tortured and deprived of basic needs.

As far as things are concerned, there are five medical doctors in Burmese prisons serving lengthy sentences for their involvement in the process of democratisation. Although they are prisoners of conscience and they themselves are doctors, proper healthcare is denied and the ICRC regular prison visits are banned – all these combined makes their lives more difficult than ever.

We particularly like to highlight the plights of the followings:

Dr Zaw Myint Maung, age (56), Amarapura MP
Arrested in 1990 and sentenced to 25 years, still in Myitkyina prison.

Dr Win Aung, NLD Chairman of Khin-U Township
Arrested in 2005, sentenced to 10 years, now in Insein prison.

Apart from the above well-known doctors, there are many medical professionals still serving long-term sentences without receiving proper medical treatment and media attention.

Based on these inhumane acts by the Burmese military regime, we would like to make an urgent request to International Medical Associations to send a letter of concern to the authorities in Burma, Myanmar Medical Association and Myanmar Embassy (London) calling for the release of all prisoners of conscience, including the detained medical professionals.


doctors from Burma

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