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AP: Myanmar military, police declare war on medics

AP Illustration, including a screen capture from video released by Radio Free Asia.

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Sydney-based enterprise correspondent Kristen Gelineau and Jakarta-based health and science correspondent Victoria Milko continued AP’s dominant coverage of Myanmar’s unrest, this time revealing how Myanmar security forces were deliberately and systematically attacking medics in the middle of the pandemic. In an extremely difficult story to report, AP’s team was able to track down health workers who were in hiding and carefully contacted them using encrypted apps.

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The body of 6-day-old Mg Htan Naing is swaddled in blankets during his funeral in Myanmar on May 22, 2021. The infant died after falling ill the previous night; his mother hadn’t been able to go to a hospital in nearby Mindat, where the military launched a bloody assault and declared martial law. – AP

One interviewee spoke of a newborn in the embattled town of Mindat who had died due to suspected pneumonia because his parents could not find a doctor. Going on scant information, AP finally broke that story open thanks to a tweet by someone in Myanmar referencing the baby’s death that included the parents’ names. Stringers then overcame bad communications, an adversarial military and monsoon season to locate the parents of the dead child in a refugee camp. The resulting story was one of heartbreak and sensitivity with disturbing but compelling video produced by multiformat journalist Allen Breed, including medics being beaten by police and photos that laid out how, despite the brutality, the health care workers continued trying to save lives.

Physicians for Human Rights called it an ”amazing piece,” and the “deepest dive” so far into the attack on doctors in Myanmar. It was shared on Twitter by prominent human rights advocates and called a “gripping and important investigation” and a “devastating investigative report.”

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