Myanmar junta arrests ophthalmologist and family in Mandalay

The arrests are just the latest carried out in the city since the beginning of the month targeting anyone suspected of opposing military rule

A retired ophthalmologist and his family were arrested in Mandalay on Wednesday for allegedly funding the anti-regime People’s Defence Force (PDF), according to sources.

Dr. Mya Than and his wife Myint Myat Khine, both in their 70s, were taken into custody along with their 45-year-old son, Yan Naung Tun, a neighbour told Myanmar Now.

“They’re a peaceful and charitable family. They always give free treatment to patients who can’t afford it,” said the neighbour, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The family’s clinic and condominium apartment, located next to each other in the city’s Aungmyaythazan Township, were also sealed off following their arrest, photos shared on pro-junta Telegram channels showed.

According to the neighbour, Myint Myat Khine was an associate professor at the Mandalay University of Distance Education until she quit her job after the military seized power in February 2021.

Her arrest on Wednesday appeared to be related to her participation in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) against military rule, the neighbour added.

The regime has designated the PDF, which serves as the armed wing of the shadow National Unity Government, as a terrorist organisation. It has also criminalised virtually any form of support for the anti-junta resistance.

In recent weeks, it has stepped up its efforts to stifle dissent in Mandalay. On August 9, it re-arrested Nwe Nwe Win, chair of the Shwe Mahar Nwe Social Welfare group, following her release from prison as part of an amnesty earlier in the year.

She was accused of “engaging in political activities under the guise of social work” after a doctored photo of her holding a protest sign was posted on a pro-regime Telegram channel.

The following week, on August 13, the regime detained Myint Myint Than, a shop owner in her 70s, for writing a post on social media expressing sympathy for young anti-junta activists.

Last week, the junta closed Mandalay’s Golden Gate Private High School and arrested its founder and management team, and earlier this week it shut down the privately owned Mingalar Hospital for allegedly employing doctors taking part in the CDM.

Regime opponents say the recent wave of arrests, which has also targeted alleged members of urban guerrilla groups, is a sign of the military’s tenuous grip on power.

“They’re trying to instil fear in the public because they know they’re losing,” said a young man based in a liberated area.

He also urged people living in Myanmar’s cities not to lose heart as they face growing pressure from the junta to abandon hope of real political change.

“I just want people to know that the revolution wouldn’t have gotten this far if everyone was afraid of them. I would also like to apologise to people in urban areas and ask them to hang on a while longer.”

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