Myanmar’s State of Emergency in a State Under Emergency Rule

The people of Myanmar face death and uncertainty from two sources as unreported delta-variant cases and fatalities surge in a country already destabilised by suppression and political violence.

Though official figures currently place Myanmar’s total number of COVID-19 cases at 333,127 and deaths at 12,014, the actual figures are believed to be far higher. Limited testing is a major cause of misinformation with only 9,000 to 17,000 people being tested per day in a country of 54 million during July.

Actual death tolls are also likely alarmingly high. The Yangon Region Administrator Council chief Hla Soe recently told the BBC that whilst 281 deaths had been reported for the country as a whole on the 19th July, in Yangon alone there were 1,500 deaths. One crematorium in the city told Sky news that they performed 300 daily cremations compared to their normal 50.

The coup of January 1st is largely responsible for the country’s current health emergency. Reacting to a recent landslide electoral victory for Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party over their pro-military opposition, Myanmar’s military Junta promptly intervened, arresting the Prime Minister and assuming ‘emergency control’ through the leadership of commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.

This takeover was executed just days after the elected government had begun its vaccine rollout. Though the Junta has recently announced the rollout of 6 million vaccines from China and 2 million from Russia, disruption and delayed action has proven fatal for many.

Protests triggered by the coup and escalated by the deadly enforcement of civil-obedience, has not only led to the arrest of 5526 people and the killing of 962 (Source: Assistance Association For Political Prisoners), but the diminishing of Myanmar’s healthcare personnel. Many health workers protested and as a result now evade warrants or have been arrested, including the former head of the vaccination programme.

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Hamish Davis

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December 2021
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