Medics threat lives to deal with injured in Myanmar anti-coup protests

Aye Nyein Thu completed medical college in Myanmar’s central metropolis of Mandalay lower than a yr earlier than the navy seized energy in a coup on February 1.

Now, the 25-year-old is offering emergency medical help as state forces crack down on mass protests.

“Most [victims] had head injuries because police are using batons to beat protesters. Some people were shot as well,” stated Aye Nyein Thu, who estimated she had responded to 10 emergency instances as of March 1. “We are facing the most terrible situation.”

Since the navy arrested civilian chief Aung San Suu Kyi and greater than 40 elected officers and declared a year-long state of emergency, hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets throughout the nation, whereas approximately three-quarters of presidency employees are estimated to have gone on strike as a part of a nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement.

With the demonstrations displaying little signal of abating, authorities have turned more and more to power.

They have fired dwell and rubber bullets, deployed water cannon and used tear gasoline and stun grenades on the crowds. The crackdowns have to date killed about 30 individuals and injured at the least 200 extra, based on the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP), a monitoring group. At least 18 individuals misplaced their lives on February 28, a day the demonstrators have now dubbed “Bloody Sunday”.

The Civil Disobedience Movement has hampered the formal well being system throughout the nation – one official from the Yangon General Hospital instructed Radio Free Asia on February 9 that as many as 80 % of presidency hospitals had shut down.

To meet the general public’s medical wants, healthcare suppliers at the moment are providing companies voluntarily exterior of presidency services, however the more and more violent crackdowns imply many healthcare employees are risking their very own lives to ship life-saving therapy to these becoming a member of the protests.

“The biggest challenge is not to get shot when we help on the ground,” stated Ze Nan,* a volunteer nurse within the Kachin State capital, Myitkyina. “The bullets can hit us, too; we can also die anytime.”

Volunteer emergency responders transport a man wounded during a military crackdown in Mandalay on Feb. 20. He was protesting a Feb. 1 military coup.Volunteer emergency responders transport a person wounded throughout a navy crackdown in Mandalay on February 20. He was protesting a February 1 navy coup [Al Jazeera]

In Mandalay, which has seen a number of the worst violence because the coup, Aye Nyein Thu is a part of a group of about 30 volunteer healthcare professionals offering emergency response all through the town. She has been strolling amongst demonstrators with a backpack containing some primary provides to cease bleeding and disinfect wounds.

So far, she has supplied emergency first help, to approximately 10 individuals and organized for a volunteer ambulance service to move victims to a clinic, additionally run by volunteers, for additional therapy.

Medical group attacked

Her group is one in all at the least six medical groups which can be working cellular or stationary healthcare companies throughout the town, based on Kaung Khant Tin, a physician who’s volunteering on one other medical group, which focuses on main care.

He stated that just one group has the services and human sources to supply stitches and demanding take care of these with severe accidents, whereas military-enforced highway closures have hindered the emergency response.

On the morning of February 28, state forces fired at medical help automobiles, injuring one volunteer from the group which had been treating probably the most severe instances, an area journalist conversant in the state of affairs instructed Al Jazeera. The group has since ceased its operations. “If the violence continues, we don’t know where we should send our patients,” stated Kaung Khant Tin.

In the Kachin State capital Myitkyina, approximately 100 putting authorities nurses are offering first help and primary companies via cellular groups and are working a referral community to volunteer ambulances and docs.

h 56732892Demonstrators run from tear gasoline thrown by safety forces throughout a protest towards the navy coup in Yangon on March 2. A month after the navy seized energy, they’ve more and more resorted to power to interrupt up protests opposing their coup [Lynn Bo Bo/EPA]

Ze Nan, leads a nursing group of approximately 40 volunteers, who stroll together with the demonstrators – carrying white wristbands and stickers to allow them to be simply recognized – and are adopted by motorbikes carrying medical kits.

On February 28, as protest numbers swelled, Ze Nan’s group purchased its personal telephones and SIM playing cards and started distributing pamphlets across the metropolis with their contact data in case of any emergency. Within hours, the group was treating head accidents from baton-wielding police beatings.

Along with the three different first responders interviewed by Al Jazeera,  Ze Nan expressed concern in regards to the excessive threat of bodily hazard. “They don’t discriminate when shooting people. We can be shot to death whether we wear our badges or not,” she stated. “All the protesters can be injured or killed at any time, including me.”

Pyae Zaw Hein, who runs a volunteer ambulance and first responder group within the southern metropolis of Dawei, additionally worries he and his group members could possibly be caught within the crossfire. With a provide of 5 automobiles, they keep contact with the assorted medical volunteer teams to move sufferers to services across the metropolis the place they’ll obtain therapy.

On February 28, authorities shot and killed three protesters within the metropolis, and one individual stays in crucial situation. Paye Zaw Hein and his group have continued to work, however he stated they face a minefield of risks and dilemmas, together with whether or not to answer emergencies through the evening when the navy has imposed a nationwide curfew.

“We don’t know how to continue doing our jobs. If there is an emergency at night, we are so confused about whether we should go out to help or not,” he stated.


In the Mon State capital of Mawlamyine, Nai Aung,* a private-practice physician, helped set up a makeshift well being facility as strikes picked up the week after the coup.

But inside days, he and different collaborating volunteers heard that authorities had obtained an inventory of their names and have been monitoring their actions and actions. The volunteers instantly closed the ability and started transferring from place to put, offering companies at vacated medical services throughout the town, whereas volunteer ambulances started working between the protests and the non permanent clinics.

“We are fine with all necessary facilities and equipment. The only difficulty is our safety. We could not find a base to treat patients. If we were able to build a base, [authorities] could destroy it any time,” stated Nai Aung.

He additionally fears that he could possibly be arrested from his home at evening or caught through the day. “We can’t treat patients publicly; we have to move around and hide. There is no guarantee for our safety as our names were disclosed and we are being watched by the police.”

On February 28, authorities began firing dwell rounds within the metropolis, killing one 21-year-old man. As of March 1, Nai Aung estimated that his group had handled approximately 50 sufferers with accidents sustained through the protests, together with two cops.

“We are treating everyone without any grudges or personal biases,” he stated.

Without entry to correct medical services, nonetheless, Nai Aung says his group can’t successfully reply to sufferers shot within the head or neck, and is presently making an attempt to coordinate referrals to hospitals in Yangon.

Emergency medical response volunteers in Mandalay on February 20 the day police opened fire on anti coup protesters in the city killing twoEmergency medical response volunteers in Mandalay on February 20, the day police opened fireplace on anti-coup protesters within the metropolis, killing two [Al Jazeera]

Crackdowns on protesters started escalating in Yangon on February 25, and on February 28, the Yangon General Hospital, which had been closed since February eight as a result of persevering with strikes, introduced it had opened its emergency division “out of necessity” to deal with the wounded.

Doctors on the hospital handled 16 individuals, most with gunshot wounds, that day, whereas three individuals have been pronounced lifeless on arrival.

In Mandalay, physician Kaung Khant Tin stated he deliberate to proceed to supply medical companies in no matter circumstances.

“We feel unsafe while treating patients. We worry about when [authorities] might threaten us or a gun may be pointed at us,” he stated. “Although police are getting more violent, we are still going to the demonstration sites with the mindset that we have to treat patients whatever happens.”

“The fight is not over yet. The protests will continue and we will always support the protesters with the medical knowledge that we have,” he added.

“I haven’t seen any unity like this before. With this unity, we will definitely win.”

*Nai Aung and Ze Nan are pseudonyms for individuals who felt unsafe to talk to Al Jazeera utilizing their actual names as a result of navy’s concentrating on of these expressing dissent. All different interviewees have requested their actual names be used.