Why hundreds of thousands of people in Myanmar did not hear Covid-19

Last June, the Myanmar government, led by State Advisor Aung San Suu Kyi, nine districts due to concerns used to be kept in the area Conflicts between the Myanmar army and the rebels.

One district restored its service in May, but eight people, with a total population of about 800,000, were left in the blackout.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say that prolonged closure not only prevents people from reporting potential human rights violations, but also puts them at risk from public health campaigns related to coronavirus pandemics.

“In the midst of an epidemic, it is crucial that they receive the necessary information to ensure the safety of civilians through an armed conflict between the Myanmar army and the Arakan Army in the Rakhine Province,” said Human Rights Watch Asian legal adviser Linda Lakhdhir. said.
On Monday, Myanmar recorded six deaths and 292 positive cases from more than 64,532 tests. Myanmar Ministry of Health.

A handful of cases have been found in Maungdaw and Buthidaung Districts in the northern Rakhine province, and more than 100,000 Rohingya Muslims live in crowded camps. Many fled the “customs clearance operations” launched by the army against the Rohingya rebels in 2018. The UN invited the Myanmar army to an international court on genocide charges for the brutality of Rohingya Muslims. The Rakhine Buddhists, who have become homeless with newer conflicts, also live in camps in the region.

While the coronavirus pandemic was spreading around the world earlier this year, Suu Kyi’s government launched a “Not Leaving Back” information campaign on the prevention of diseases such as social removal requirements.

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However, MP Htoot, representing the Arakan National Democracy Union at the Upper Assembly of the Myanmar Union Parliament, said on Sunday that many people in northern Rakhine province and neighboring Chin province have not received public health notices circulating on Facebook. messaging apps and government websites.

“When I ask people in electoral districts whether they are aware of Covid-19, I have to explain the global epidemic from the very beginning,” said Htoot May. Said. “I must explain to them what the social distance is and how to apply proper hand hygiene.”

“I obviously can’t travel a lot because of Covid-19, so there are too many people that I can warn,” he said.

“They’re not afraid of Covid-19 because they don’t know it, they’re much more concerned than fighting at this stage.”

CNN appealed to Myanmar State Consultant spokesperson Zaw Htay for comment.

Ongoing conflicts

In late 2018, the war began between the Myanmar army, known as the Tatmadaw, and the well-equipped Arakan Army, which demanded more autonomy for the majority of Rakhine Buddhists in the Rakhine state.

As the war progressed, the internet’s closure resulted in more civilian deaths, rejecting people’s real-time information. open letter On Sunday, Rakhine was released to social media by a coalition of political and community groups.

According to the letter, clashes increased, 151 civilians were killed and 344 injured in a crossfire, regardless of internet outage.

“This is not a conflict that both parties can win on the battlefield,” independent Myanmar analyst Richard Horsey told the International Crisis Group. Said. “This is actually a political problem that Rakhine people want to say more autonomy and more about their future. (Myanmar) must develop a political response and is currently lacking.”

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Alternative ongoing war, says Horsey, and both the Arakan Army and the Myanmar army have been charged with brutality. Deputy Khine Kyaw Moe, representing the Rakhine National Party, says these brutalities are not reported and documented without an internet connection.

“Both armies may be violating human rights, and without the Internet, people are torn from journalists and local and international NGOs where they can report them,” said Khine Kyaw Moe. Said.

Speaking to Suu Kyi and signed by 79 Rakhine stakeholder groups, Sunday’s open letter said he was looking for a political solution that would begin with the government reconnecting the Internet.

“Freedom of speech and access to information are the basis of democracy. In this age, access to the internet is the democratic standard. Equality demands ready knowledge about the economy, education, health and society.”

Election Year

Like many other countries, Myanmar introduced a curfew to control the spread of coronavirus, prohibitions at major meetings, and a quarantine period for foreign arrivals.

The government also imposed criminal penalties on people who did not follow the rules, including prison sentences for violating quarantine decisions. At least 500 people, including children, were sentenced to a year in prison.

The country’s response seems to have spread the virus, but without its critics.

“Throwing behind hundreds of bars in caged, unhygienic prisons beat the purpose of the Covid-19 spread.” Human Rights Watch said in May.

Suu Kyi’s approach to the pandemic could work against him as the country prepares to vote in an election this year.

MP Htoot May said that closing the war and subsequent communication in Rakhine could also reduce voter support for Suu Kyi and his party, the National Democracy Union.

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Deputy Htoot May, “I believed in Suu Kyi in 2015 and was happy to work with him.” Said. “I used to think that Aung San Suu Kyi will help people in the remote areas gain internet access, not cut them.”

“Human rights are not just something Aung San Suu Kyi can talk about. He needs to do this.”

On the other hand, Suu Kyi’s virus-related record may have no effect on the election result – due to the shutdown of the Internet, a large number of people in the westernmost part of the country may not know that this is happening.

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About the Author: Abbott Hopkins

Analyst. Amateur problem solver. Wannabe internet expert. Coffee geek. Tv guru. Award-winning communicator. Food nerd.

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