The Myanmar Military Has Arrested Spokesperson for COVID-19 On Alleged Corruption

After the military staged a coup in Myanmar, Dr Htar Htar Lin was getting ready to join other healthcare workers in the growing Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM).
She was the country’s spokesperson for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, and she hoped her act of defiance would encourage others to resist the new regime. 
But before she announced her decision and went into hiding on February 7, 2021, there was the issue of 161m kyat (roughly $100,000) in a government account for the immunisation effort. 
The money could be used by the junta to counter efforts by activists to choke off its sources of funding.
So she set about distributing the funds to local health departments across the country, according to a colleague, who added that whatever she couldn’t distribute she returned to donors.
Furthermore, they noted that she helped grassroots staff who vaccinated people get the money. “She also prevented middlemen from taking the money intended for the grassroots staff.” 
Since then, she has been one of the regime’s most wanted people; she was one of the first doctors to receive an arrest warrant after the coup. 
On Nawaday Street in downtown Yangon, she was detained while meeting a friend, another doctor. Later, the junta’s forces raided her home and seized phones, computers and other devices.
Her husband was also detained and made to sign a pledge at the Dagon Township Police Station. Within two hours, authorities returned to his home and seized him, his seven-year-old son, and the family pet. 
“Her husband, their child and their dog were all taken,” said a friend of Htar Htar Lin. It is unknown where the family is currently located. 
Htar Htar Lin is one of 25 doctors who have been charged with high treason, colluding with an illegal organization, and incitement, the junta’s Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported on June 14, 2021. 
Htar Htar Lin failed to clear the 161m kyat balance before going on strike, according to the report. 
On June 13, 2021.  two more doctors involved in the movement to topple the junta were arrested in Mandalay. They are Dr Maung Maung Nyein Tun, a professor at Mandalay Medical University, and his wife, Dr Swe Zin Oo, a physician at Mandalay General Hospital. 
According to a colleague of the couple, the military was informed of their whereabouts by a fellow doctor.  
During their attempt to escape, they were arrested at a house they were staying in temporarily. A doctor at a 300-bed hospital told the military about them, I heard. “That assistant doctor is not a CDM.” 
The Global New Light published a picture of Maung Maung Nyein Tun with bruises on his face after the arrests. The colleague said, “The doctor was tortured.”.
According to the newspaper, Htar Htar Lin led the Public Health Team on behalf of Dr Zaw Wai Soe, the health minister of the National Unity Government (NUG). NUG has been branded a terrorist organization by the junta. 
Zaw Wai Soe contacted her on Signal on March 15 to ask for help, the newspaper reported, adding that she drafted speeches for him and NUG health policy plans. 
According to the report, he also told her to seek $8 million from international donors for six months of medical expenses related to “terrorist acts” across the country. 
Htar Htar Lin’s colleague believes the military took particular offense to her because she prevented them from getting their hands on Covid-19 funds. 
Myanmar Now was told, “She distributed the money to the regions and states.”. “The remainder was returned to the donors. She had cleared all donor accounts by February 7, 2021. In her absence, the junta couldn’t get the funds.” 
A colleague said the doctor never bullied less senior workers at the health department.
She wrote in early February that the regime tried to get $75m back from the Serum Institute of India (SII) by “accusing” ousted State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. 
Since then, the junta has charged Suu Kyi with corruption.
Moreover, she said, the junta-controlled health ministry hoped to get workers back to work by giving them a second dose of SII vaccine. 
Before the coup, many health workers had their first vaccination. In order for the second dose to be effective, it must be taken between four and 12 weeks later, but many health workers boycotted it. 
At the end of her email, Htar Htar Lin wrote, “Dear partners and friends.”. If you are reading this, I may still be escaping or detained by the military. “But I will never give up.”Two-hundred and twenty-two of the doctors who are to be charged have evaded arrest, according to the report.


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