Medical workers in Mandalay join the civil disobedience campaign in protest of the military coup on February 3.
Medical workers in Mandalay join the civil disobedience campaign in protest of the military coup on February 3.

Teachers, students join anti-coup campaign as hospital staff stop work

A civil disobedience campaign launched by hospital personnel in response to the military coup is gaining momentum and has been joined by teachers, students and engineers at military-linked enterprises.

By FRONTIER

A civil disobedience campaign launched by medical workers in response to the February 1 military coup is escalating and has been joined by teachers, students and engineers who work for a military-linked mobile operator, Mytel, and a partner, Viettel Construction Myanmar.

Although most civil servants in Myanmar remain at their desks, employees at nearly 100 government hospitals did not go to work today. After announcing their strike yesterday, they have since been joined by postgraduate students at the University of Medicine 1 in Yangon and the University of Medicine in Mandalay.

A Facebook page launched in support of the campaign yesterday afternoon has already attracted more than 170,000 followers.

A postgraduate student at the University of Medicine 2 in Yangon said she went to the Yangon Children’s Hospital today but returned home after discovering that students from the University of Medicine 1 had not reported for work.

“Most of the students at the [hospital] are from the University of Medicine 1,” she said, adding that no doctors had reported for work at the children’s hospital either.

“I think students from the University of Medicine 2 will also join the movement,” she told Frontier.

Meanwhile, seven teachers’ groups, including the powerful Myanmar Teachers’ Federation, have announced that they are joining the civil disobedience movement. Their members stopped working today because they oppose the coup, they said.

The MTF alone has more than 100,000 members throughout the country, at higher and basic education institutions, private schools and monastery schools.

In Sagaing Region, 71 engineers from 12 towns who are employed by the partly Tatmadaw-owned telecommunications operators Mytel and partner VCM, which operates and maintains the Mytel network, resigned their positions today and said they would fight to restore the elected government.

Ko Thiha Zaw, a technical manager at Mytel, told the Monywa Gazette they had quit because they do not accept the coup.

Meanwhile, officials at the Ministry of Finance and Planning dismissed rumours circulating on social media that employees of the Internal Revenue Department intended to stop work in protest at the coup.

As more workers join the movement, concern has also grown among participants about the possibility of a crackdown by the military government.

An assistant surgeon at Nay Pyi Taw’s 1,000-bed General Hospital told Frontier that rumours were spreading that legal action will be taken against medical personnel who have joined the civil disobedience campaign.

“I heard that the military has said it will replace us with military doctors, and they will soon collect the names of doctors who are not going to work,” she said. “I don’t know if the rumour is true but our superiors have assured that they won’t accept it if the military tries do that. I don’t know how the hospital is running today because we are not there.”

Meanwhile, more than 1,500 youth volunteers organised by the Yangon Region Youth Affairs Committee who for the past 10 months have been assisting in the fight against COVID-19 have announced that they intend to withdraw their services.

To ensure that the public continues to have access to health care, medical workers have established a “Democracy Clinic” that is providing online consultations.

Although NLD chair Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is believed to have called for non-violent resistance to the military takeover via typed letter posted to her official Facebook page on Monday, there has been no such call from the party organisation itself. However, NLD lawmakers have used their social media accounts to praise the striking medical personnel. Pyithu Hluttaw MP Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw (NLD, Zabuthiri) has uploaded a video expressing strong support for the strike by medical personnel, saying that “nobody, including me, likes the military government. We need to protest in a non-violent way before taking to the streets. I want to invite public servants at all levels and in all government departments to become involved in this movement.”

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