Striking doctors, foreign ministry staff charged as junta continues crackdown on Civil Disobedience Movement 

Foreign ministry staff are among 11 detainees who have been charged under Section 505a of the Penal Code for participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), family members have said.

The detainees, who also include one parliamentary staffer and an employee from the Ministry of Planning and Finance, were arrested in an early morning raid last week.

Section 505a carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail and is non-bailable. The new regime recently amended it to outlaw hindering government employees in their duties, part of an intensifying crackdown on civil servants who are on strike to oppose the February 1 coup. 

On Saturday security forces killed two people in Mandalay after a crowd gathered to prevent police from arresting striking shipyard workers. 

Family members of the 11 detainees were denied contact with them and not told of their whereabouts until Tuesday, when they found out they were detained at the Dekkhina police station in Naypyitaw. 

One family member said he has still not been allowed to meet his relative, only to contact them by letter. 

“We can’t write a lot in the letter, the police check it and then show it to them,” he said. “Police also looked at the letter they wrote to us.”

Dr Thant Lwin, head of the Kyauktaga township hospital (Supplied)

Family members had previously asked after their relatives at the Dekkhina police station but been told they weren’t there. 

The group was taken for a court hearing on Saturday without their families’ knowledge, the relatives said. 

The 11 detainees are: Thet Htoo Aung, Aung Zin Htet, Thae Suu Tun, Thae Thae Hla, Phyo Phyo Wai, Thu Thu Aung, Suu Pyae Pyae Phyo; Suu Lei Yee,  Khin Mar Aung,  Thinzar Win and Sai Min Htwe.

Their next hearing at the Dekkhina Thiri township court will be on March 5.

Kaung Htike Soe, an assistant education officer in Myittha township, Mandalay region, said on Facebook on Sunday that he had been charged with section 505a for his role in the CDM.  He is suspected of leading teachers to join the movement in Myittha.

Four doctors participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement in Kyauktaga township, Bago state have been charged under 505 (a) by the township chief police officer on February 22.

Staff of Myo Chaung Cottage Hospital have joined the Civil Disobedience Movement. (Supplied)

The junta has also targeted medical staff, who spearheaded the CDM in the days after the coup. 

Four doctors in Bago were charged under section 505a on Monday, though they have avoided arrest and are in hiding. They are Dr Thant Lwin, head of the Kyauktaga township hospital, Dr Thiha Aung, Dr Min Khaing and Dr Pyae Phyo Aung.

“The four of us don’t plan to come back to work. If we do, we’ll just fall into their trap. We’re just going to continue with the CDM,” said Thiha Aung.

Dr Pyae Phyo Naing, a CDM leader from Ingapu township, Ayeyarwaddy, was arrested on the evening of February 11.

Police and soldiers also tried to arrest the head of the University of Medicine in Mandalay at his home at 1am on February 12. But they were unable to detain him because his family members refused to open the door and a crowd gathered outside to protect him. 

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