Former Head of Myanmar’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program Arrested

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The former head of Myanmar’s COVID-19 vaccination program has been arrested and faces high treason charges for conspiring with opponents of military authorities, state media reported Monday.

Myanmar’s health system and coronavirus prevention measures have collapsed since the army took power on February 1 and ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose government had successfully stopped two waves of the virus.

On Sunday, reported cases rose to their highest level since shortly after the coup.

Doctors and other medical workers have been at the forefront of a Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), leading strikes that have paralyzed official and private businesses. Dozens have been arrested and hundreds more are wanted.

Myanmar’s Global New Light said that Htar Htar Lin had been arrested on June 10 and was also charged with working with a clandestine National Unity Government (NUG).

“According to his confession, not only did he join the CDM and formed the Central Group of the CDM together with other doctors and CDM staff, but he also colluded with the terrorist NUG,” he said.

Reuters was unable to reach her or any attorney representing her for comment.

The newspaper said she and 11 other doctors would face charges that included high treason, incitement and collusion with an illegal organization.

The board has labeled the NUG created by Suu Kyi supporters and other opponents of the military government as a terrorist group.

The arrest of Htar Htar Lin and other doctors was condemned by US-based Physicians for Human Rights.

“The arbitrary arrest of Dr. Htar Htar Lin is another sign that the military junta will stop at nothing in its war against Myanmar health workers,” said Jennifer Leigh, an epidemiologist who works as the group’s Myanmar researcher.

The 373 new COVID-19 cases reported Sunday were the highest since February 3, just before tests collapsed in the wake of the coup.

(Reuters staff report Written by Matthew Tostevin Edited by Ed Davies)