Healthcare workers stage an anti-regime protest in Naypyitaw in February 2021. / The Irrawaddy
A striking nurse who took part in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) died in a regime interrogation center in Mandalay and may have been tortured to death, according to her colleagues and other CDM participants.
Daw Poe Thandar Aung, an obstetrics nurse, was arrested on the evening of October 29 along with four other CDM doctors and nurses in Chanmyathazi Township, Mandalay Region. Their arrest followed the October 27 seizure of a truck carrying medicine and medical equipment on the Pale-Gangaw Road by junta soldiers. Two drivers and workers were also detained.
Military regime-controlled media claimed that the medicine and medical equipment was intended for resistance forces and accused those detained of supporting the People’s Defense Forces (PDF).
A 25-year-old male colleague of Daw Poe Thandar Aung who had been working with her in the Yaw region said that it had been confirmed that the nurse died in the Myanmar military interrogation center inside Mandalay’s Royal Palace compound. She is thought to have died in the second week of November.
“At this moment, her family is struggling to get her body back. She had been working for months in the Yaw region to provide healthcare for internally displaced persons,” said the colleague.
On Tuesday, prominent Mandalay CDM participant Dr Soe Thuya Zaw wrote on his social media that he had learned that Daw Poe Thandar Aung from Mandalay’s Central Women Hospital had died in the interrogation center.
“A nurse is executed for nursing, that’s just what is happening in this country. I respectfully salute Daw Poe Thandar Aung,” wrote the doctor.
The other CDM participants arrested along with Daw Poe Thandar Aung on October 29 are Ma Zin Mar Win, a nurse from Mandalay General Hospital, Ko Min Zaw Oo, a doctor and lecturer at Mandalay Medical University and Ma Kyi Thadar Phyu and Ma Yoon Nandar Htun, nurses from a training hospital in Mandalay.
Junta social media channels claimed that Daw Poe Thandar Aung died because she suffered from asthma. A November 16 post on Pillar Media, which spreads pro-regime propaganda, said that “CDM participant nurse Poe Thandar Aung, who provided medicine to PDFs in Chin State, died in the interrogation center.”
However, a friend and colleague from Gangaw said: “It is just a lie. She didn’t have asthma. She might just have died because of their [Myanmar military] torture.”