Myanmar Medical Workers Say Sunday Violence Was ‘Like a War’

Myanmar’s most violent day was “like a war,” according to frontline medical workers, as the military crackdown continued since the coup on Feb. 1.Thousands of anti-coup protesters have been in the streets voicing their opposition to military control, while sector professionals are refusing to work under the junta government, officially the State Administrative Council. More than 2,000 demonstrators have been detained and hundreds have been killed, according to the An anti-coup protester throws a Molotov cocktail towards police as they move towards the protest area in Yangon, Myanmar, March 17, 2021.And the surgeon admits she’s concerned the military might target her hospital next. “I’m very worried. If they occupy, if they control my hospital, we cannot conduct an operation like this,” she said.An emergency doctor at a Yangon hospital said real bullets were largely the cause for so many injured and killed protesters Sunday.“On that day, I received at least 55 gunshot wound victims. Out of those 55, they used the real bullets for 50 patients,” the doctor said.The doctor told VOA he witnessed the “8888 uprisings” in 1988, where thousands were killed. The doctor was also working during the Saffron Revolution in 2007. But from his experiences, the current military is targeting protesters to kill them.“In the other uprisings, they shot at them not aiming at the head, neck or chest. Someone who was unlucky might have died on the spot or at the hospital. They were hit in the hands or the thigh, some maybe lethal, some maybe not lethal,” he said.“But now, their attack is like a military battle. They probably use the sniper. Headshots are many. This is different. I found many dead patients, dead at the scene; they had just one shot,” the doctor said.“They aim to kill, not to threaten,” he underscored.The doctor said the military is even targeting medical employees in ambulances, who are attempting to retrieve injured patients from danger zones.An anti-coup protester uses a fire extinguisher to provide cover for others as security forces approach their encampment in Yangon, Myanmar, March 17, 2021.“This time, 2021 is very much more difficult than 2007 because the military is trying to shoot even through the ambulances. It’s very ugly. Shoot the ambulances or arrest the ambulance crew, or they do not allow the medical crew through to the scene,” he added.Zeya Thu, a Myanmar political commentator, acknowledged the current uprising has reached the Myanmar people on a much larger scale than previously.“People from all sorts of life are taking part in the 2021 movement against the coup, and the movement is a lot bigger than the one in 2007,” he told VOA.The current crackdown by the military already has seen more deaths than the Saffron Revolution, Myanmar’s previous uprising in 2007, where thousands protested in the streets about fuel prices.According to various reports, the death toll in 2007 ranged from at least 13 to upwards of 100, although VOA has obtained additional details from a leaked police report stating there were more than 20,000 arrests and 34 people killed during the 2007 unrest.Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, gained independence from Britain in 1948, but most of its modern history has been governed under military rule.The NLD party led by Aung San Suu Kyi won the country’s first open democratic election in 2015. But in last November’s general elections, the military contested poll results, claiming widespread electoral fraud, without evidence. On Feb. 1, the Myanmar military, also known as Tatmadaw, removed the NLD government. Leader Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were detained and have since been additionally charged.Armored vehicles and live ammunition have been deployed by the military to suppress protests, while martial law has been imposed across the country. The junta has implemented daily internet shutdowns for the sake of the country’s stability, it said.

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