Ro Nay San Lwin’s Response To the False Accusation Made Against Him by the Myanmar Government On State Media
Ro Nay San Lwin
January 5, 2017
On December 28th, 2016 Myanmar’s state mouthpiece, The Global New Light of Myanmar, State Television and Burmese language newspapers posted news claiming I spread a false news story about a child who had died following a vaccination in Kha Mong Seik sub-Township of Maungdaw district. The state affiliated outlets claimed the child died due to a respiratory problem and dysentery.
Following these allegations from the Myanmar government I have spoken with several villagers to learn more details about the story in question. According to these villagers, on December 22nd, 2016 in Ma Gyi Chaung hamlet in Ward number 4, locally called Min Kha Mong Ward, a healthcare worker named Mamed Umar made a list of children under the age of one year old per the instructions of the Health Department officer based in Tamanthar village. The parents of the children insisted they did not want their children to take the vaccination because the children had previously suffered illness after having taken vaccinations. The healthcare worker then threatened them, saying it was the instruction of the government and that they had to. Villagers said the healthcare worker said they might be fined or jailed if they refused to vaccinate the children. He reminded them that since they were too poor to pay the fines they would be jailed instead. As a result of the threats the parents complied with the healthcare worker and he was able to complete a list of the children as he intended.
On December 23rd, 2016 at 9 AM a nurse named Daw Mya Kay Khine, who is based in Min Kha Mong, a nurse from Ye Aung hamlet, a nurse based in Khwa Sone hamlet and five Border Guard Police based in Min Kha Mong ward came to the rural clinic in Min Kha Mong ward and then gave vaccinations to the children there. At 9:30 AM an eight-month-old baby named Yaseen Johar, son of Nur Alom, was given the vaccination along with around twenty other children.
Shortly after the vaccination the children began vomiting and showed signs of exhaustion and severe fatigue. Later in the day seven of the children were considered to be in critical condition and by 9pm Yaseen Johar had died.
The eight-month old twin daughters of Shafi Alom, named Janata Ara and Kawsaira, the seven-month old daughter of Zahid Hussein, named Kawsaira, the seven-month old son of Nurul Islam, named Azizul Mustafa, the nine-month old son of Kamal Hussein, named Najimullah and one other child were admitted to the healthcare centre in Thamanthar for treatment as they were all in very critical condition following their vaccinations.
On December 25th, 2016 three nurses including Daw Mya Kay Khine, the Min Kha Mong ward administrator, the health department officer from Thamanthar, some border guard police and the healthcare worker Mamed Umar summoned Nur Alom and forced him to sign a paper saying his son was not given the vaccination. They instructed him to say that his son was not given the vaccination, but died of diarrhea, if he was asked by anyone. He was threatened at this time with jail if he told anyone that his son died due the vaccination. After threatening him the group then changed his son’s vaccination record card.
On December 28th, 2016, a Health Department officer based in Thamanthar, the Min Kha Mong ward administrator, some of the village elders and some Border Guard Police came to Ma Gyi Chaung hamlet and had a meeting with the parents of the children who had been given vaccinations on December 23rd 2016. The Health Department officer told the parents of the children who were vaccinated that Yaseen Johar had died “because his lifetime had finished.” The Health Department officer said the causes of Yaseen’s death were unrelated to the vaccination and that many children in the area were suffering from diarrhea in other villages. He then urged all the parents to take special care for their children by boiling any water they use before their children drink it, eating healthy foods and he also gave them some medicine for their children.
The Health Department officer then asked that the parents monitor the health of the six children who had also become sick after the vaccinations in case their condition worsened. He said if those children’s conditions worsened the parents should call the healthcare centre in Thamanthar or bring their children there. The villagers said the six children are still in critical condition.
An NGO worker in the same area told me personally that the vaccinations had created problems for the children and that one child died because the vaccination had not been stored in a cool room as is required by such medications to prevent them from spoiling. I am very suspicious of these vaccinations because normally medical care is not even provided to the Rohingyas. Children in these areas can easily be at risk of illness or death if negligence and carelessness occur where healthcare is administered to them.
Following the October 9th, 2016 attacks against three Border Guard Police outposts, at least 450 Rohingya civilians have been killed, 2000 Rohingya homes have been burnt to the ground and at least 300 Rohingya women and girls were gang raped by Myanmar security forces.
I wrote on my Facebook, which is in Burmese language, that this Government will continue to kill the Rohingya by various means. As they’ve already killed 450 in a very brutal way, who knows how many more will be killed in the near and distant futures. The sentence was picked up by a Burmese commentator at Voice of America (VOA) Burmese service and they accused me of spreading false news. To be honest, I feel that the VOA Burmese service is wasting the US taxpayers’ money by advocating for such a notoriously brutal military in a time where serious accusations are being made against them by highly credible organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The articles and news provided by VOA Burmese service is very often biased and dishonest in order to favor the accounts made by the Myanmar Government and they have made almost no effort at all to include accounts from Rohingya who witnessed major events.
Ro Nay San Lwin can be reached via Twitter @nslwin.