At least 109 attacks and threats against health workers, facilities, and transports have reportedly been perpetrated in Myanmar from February 11 to April 12, 2021, according to an analysis based on open-source reports conducted by Insecurity Insight, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), and Johns Hopkins University Center for Public Health and Human Rights (CPHHR).
The attacks are uniformly reported to have been committed by the country’s armed forces and police amid ongoing protests against the military coup. In addition to the military’s attacks on civilians and demonstrators, health workers have been targeted for providing medical care to injured civilians and other health workers have been attacked for their participation in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), which is protesting the military takeover.
Within the 109 total incidents that took place across Myanmar between February 11 and April 12, Insecurity Insight, PHR, and CPHHR highlight reports of:
- 97 health workers arrested
- 32 health workers injured
- 10 health workers killed
- Hospitals raided at least 49 times
- Hospitals occupied at least 36 times
The incidents referred to are based on the dataset 11 February – 12 April 2021 Violence Against Health Care in Myanmar Data, which is available on the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX).
For the purposes of this research brief, one incident can comprise multiple types of violence or threats such as those above. For example, in one reported incident in Kyauk Kone township in Yangon city on February 27, 20 health workers were arrested and four were injured.
In another reported incident on April 5 in Saunchaung township in Yangon, four medical staff were arrested when a charity clinic was raided by soldiers and police. In one reported incident on March 9 in Heho town, Shan state, soldiers occupied the Heho General Hospital. Local residents protested the occupation, resulting in the arrest of 36 people. The detained individuals were sent to Taunggyi Prison.
“The Myanmar military’s persecution of health workers is taking many horrifying forms: ambulances shot at, clinics taken over by armed forces, medics killed,” said Jennifer Leigh, an epidemiologist serving as PHR’s Myanmar researcher. “By attacking the health system, the junta is terrorizing the population and cutting off access to life-saving care in the middle of a pandemic. These are gross violations of human rights, and threats against long-standing international principles of protection of health care, including the obligations of health professionals to care for the sick and wounded without interference.”
“Attacks on health care are a global phenomenon, experienced in many conflict settings but also fueled by the pandemic,” said Christina Wille, managing director of Insecurity Insight. “Tragically, Myanmar has emerged as a major hotspot for violence against health care, as the military brazenly assaults health workers and attempts to control the country’s health infrastructure.”
The research brief highlights reported incidents of violence against health workers, facilities, and transport in Myanmar between February 11 and April 12, 2021. It does not include information on violence against patients.
Insecurity Insight, PHR, and CPHHR used an open-source methodology to compile incidents noted in local, national, and international news outlets, online databases, and social media reports. The incidents reported are neither a complete nor a representative list of all incidents. Most incidents have not undergone verification by Insecurity Insight, PHR, and CPHHR. Data collection is ongoing and data may change as more information is made available. However, the data offers a snapshot of how Myanmar’s military is persecuting health workers and targeting facilities amid its broader crackdown on dissent.
The research brief makes several recommendations to United Nations (UN) Member States, urging the international community to ensure the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2286, adopted May 2016, which strongly condemns attacks on medical personnel in conflict situations.
Earlier this month, PHR and 20 other organizations sent an open letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging the Biden administration to take immediate additional actions to address the public health and human rights crisis in Myanmar.
Insecurity Insight monitors open sources for information on incidents that interfere with the delivery of health care. This information is shared once a month in the Attacks on Health Care Monthly News Briefs, and with a wide range of stakeholders who campaign for change or work on the ground. Subscribe to updates here.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.