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Healthcare workers in Myanmar join protest against coup

Newly formed opposition group accuses army of putting its interests above people

YANGON: Opposition to the junta headed by army chief General Min Aung Hlaing has begun to emerge in Myanmar.

The newly formed Civil Disobedience Movement said doctors at 70 hospitals and medical departments in 30 towns had joined a protest.

It accused the army of putting its interests above people's hardships during a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 3,100 people in Myanmar, one of the highest tolls in South-east Asia.

"We refuse to obey any order from the illegitimate military regime who demonstrated they do not have any regards for our poor patients," it said.

Gen Min Aung Hlaing seized power before the new Parliament's first sitting on Monday on the grounds of fraud in the election, which the electoral commission had said was fair.

The military coup has led to the detention of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, and other civilian politicians.

Myanmar police have filed charges against her for illegally importing communications equipment, and she will be detained until Feb 15 for investigations, said a police document.

"We really cannot accept this," said Dr Myo Myo Mon, 49, who was among the doctors who stopped work to protest.

"We will do this in a sustainable way, we will do it in a non-violent way... This is the route our state counsellor desires," she said, referring to Ms Suu Kyi by her title.

In Yangon, the din of banging pots and honking car horns reverberated through Myanmar's biggest city late on Tuesday in the first widespread protest against the military coup.

In a public display of anger people chanted "evil be gone".

"It is a Myanmar tradition to drive away evil or bad karma by beating tin or metal buckets," said Yangon resident San Tint.

The Civil Disobedience Movement's Facebook page had nearly 150,000 followers by yesterday morning, some 24 hours after its launch.

But protesting against Myanmar's military is fraught with risk. During junta rule, dissent was quashed with thousands of activists - including Ms Suu Kyi - detained for years on end.

Yesterday morning, the official Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper published a warning from the Ministry of Information against opposing the coup.

"Some of the media organisations and people are posting rumours on social media, releasing statements to occur riot and unstable situation (sic)," the English language statement read.

It called on people "not to make such moves and to cooperate with the government in accordance with existing laws".

As for the charges against Ms Suu Kyi, a police request to a court detailing the accusations said six walkie-talkies had been found in a search of her home in the capital Naypyidaw.

The radios were imported illegally and used without permission, it said. The document requested Ms Suu Kyi's detention "in order to question witnesses, request evidence and seek legal counsel after questioning the defendant".

A separate document showed police filed charges against ousted President Win Myint for violating protocols to stop the spread of Covid-19 during campaigning for the election last November. - REUTERS, AFP

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