On 1 February 2021, Myanmar’s military staged a coup and took control of the country, once again plunging it into military rule. The military has declared a year-long state of emergency citing the failure of the civilian government to address election irregularities, and has detained key political figures and a number of journalists and political activists.
Our medical programs are currently still running, but staff movements have been restricted and the situation remains fragile. Our statement below has been prepared by Benoit de Gryse, MSF Operational Manager for Myanmar.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is gravely concerned about the recent unlawful arrests and detainment of healthcare workers, and people from the wider general public, following the military coup in Myanmar on 1 February 2021.
The arrests, and the widespread restrictions following the recently imposed ‘state of emergency’, have the potential to severely interrupt the life-saving healthcare that MSF, and others, have been providing to some of the most vulnerable people in Myanmar. This puts the safety of the wider public at risk, with mass detainments likely leading to further outbreaks of COVID-19. Alongside the arrests, the reports of violence against protestors, and the potential escalation of this violence, is greatly concerning.
We are also deeply concerned about the harassment and intimidation faced by members of the medical community in Myanmar, and also the intimidation and arrests of people in the wider community. We see this crisis brings real fears, expressed by so many of our colleagues, and worry for the immediate and long-term effect on public health and general safety.
In all circumstances, and regardless of age, religion or political affiliation, our patients come first, as does the safety of our staff and the partners we work with. We will continue to deliver impartial medical care to the most vulnerable to the best of our capacity and while access and circumstances still allow for the provision of care.
Currently, our programs are running but staff movements have been restricted. We continue to monitor the situation closely and are ready to adapt our medical humanitarian response as needed.
Benoit de Gryse, MSF Operational Manager for Myanmar.