Destroying Medical Checkpoints Hinders Disease Prevention: RCSS/SSA Says

By Network Media Group
Friday, June 26, 2020

The Burma Army destroyed a Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) medical checkpoint that was part of the ethnic armed organization’s (EAO) COVID-19 prevention campaign in southern Shan State.

Lt-Col Oum Khur, RCSS/SSA spokesperson, told NMG he can’t understand why the Burma Army is doing this at the same time the army and the government are giving the EAO personal protective equipment to prevent an outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

“We’re facing a pandemic and this virus is really dangerous, and that’s why we need to work together to prevent it. If we don’t cooperate, we probably won’t stop it,” he says.

Oum Khur says Tatmadaw soldiers destroyed its medical checkpoint last Sunday (June 21) near Ner Khan village, in Mongnai Township, in Lamkho District.

RCSS/SSA medics were checking the temperatures of villagers when the village headman and police told them to leave the area because they didn’t have permission. Soldiers from LIB-575, based in Mongnai Township, destroyed the checkpoint.

”Before signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), RCSS/SSA used to patrol the area,” says Oum Khur.

The RCSS/SSA posted on its Tai Freedom Facebook page that the commander for the Central-East Military Command ordered soldiers to destroy the medical checkpoint.

On the same day, Tatmadaw informed the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) to remove its medical checkpoint in Kachin State.

NMG spoke to a KIO officer who says their medics left on June 21 after being asked. The next day, KIO’s military arm, Kachin Independence Army, dismantled their checkpoint.

In Bago Region, the Burma Army destroyed a Karen National Union medical checkpoint in Shwe Kyin Township on June 2, and three checkpoints in Thaton Township in Mon State in May.

Oum Khur says, “I think it’s better for EAOs to do COVID-19 prevention in their controlled territories and, whenever possible, work together with the government and Burma Army.”

When the Burma Army destroys EAO’s medical checkpoints, they’re violating the terms of the NCA, he says.

In May, Tatmadaw soldiers prevented RCSS/SSA medics from carrying out their duties in Mongpan Township in southern Shan State.