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Junta evicts Aids patients after visit by Aung San Suu Kyi

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Junta authorities have ordered Aids patients out of one of the National League for Democracy sponsored centres that Aung San Suu Kyi visited on Wednesday and into a government hospital, against their will. In response, NLD members and independent candidates who lost in recent elections reached a deal yesterday to establish a network that would start helping people living with HIV and Aids, a network member said.

Independent candidate Dr. Phone Win, who stood for a seat in the People’s Assembly, said the network would start by taking action against local authorities’ ban on permitting guest registration for the 66 HIV/Aids patients living at the South Dagon HIV/Aids “salvation centre”. The centre in the Rangoon satellite town is managed by a team led by NLD central committee member Phyu Phyu Thin.

asskIt appears junta authorities are using registration regulations and brute force out of spite over Suu Kyi’s visit to the NLD-run Aids hospice. Under junta laws, if a Burmese citizen wants to stay overnight at a friend’s home or anywhere else they are not listed on house registers, the citizen must report the visit to ward authorities. The reporting is usually however a formality seldom refused. The ward authorities appear to be using this regulation to thwart NLD activities.

He said 11 independent candidates and senior NLD leaders Suu Kyi, Win Tin, Tin Oo and Phyu Phyu Thin reached the agreement at a two-hour meeting this morning at party headquarters.

“Daw Suu talked to us about establishing a network to carry out practical work. She then asked if we would like to assist with the forced evictions of these [Aids] patients being looked after by Phyu Phyu Thin … We shall help them,” Phone Win told Mizzima.

The Independents’ Democratic Group, comprising Dr. Phone Win, Yuzar Maw Tun, Tin San, San Myint, Moe Tun and Thein Dan, took responsibility for exerting pressure on departments concerned via donors for the patients’ right to freedom of residence and to receive treatment. It issued a statement yesterday saying HIV/Aids patients had the fundamental right to freedom of movement and residence and that they could stay at the residence of their choice.

The statement added that freedom of choice in political and social situations were also fundamental rights.

Another independent candidate who attended today’s meeting had stood for Pazundaung Pyithu Hluttaw constituency. He said: “Phyu Phyu Thin’s patients come from rural areas and provinces so they have difficulty in getting guest registration. Daw Suu discussed our co-operation in this work and getting medicines for them. She emphasised … carrying out our work within the legal framework.”

The HIV/Aids salvation centres were established in 2002 by NLD central committee member Phyu Phyu Thin and youth members with assistance from the NLD’s social-aid wing.

Meanwhile, patients from one of the centres have been ordered to move to a government hospital against their will.

South Dagon Township Peace and Development Council chairman ordered that the Aids patients visited by Suu Kyi on Wednesday should go into the Tharketa Hospital, according to Htin Aung, manager of the salvation centres.

“They gave the patients five days to move. They say that if the patients continue to stay here, they will take disciplinary action. They said that the salvation centres were neither homes for the aged nor hospitals and that we had not registered the patients with the ward authorities. They said that our centres were like family homes, and that this many people could not live in them,” Htin Aung said.

Township chairman Ko Ko Hlaing gave the order to Htin Aung yesterday, he said. Ko Ko Hlaing ordered that the patients must be presented for admission to the hospital or return to their own homes before November 25.

The official promised that the authorities would give the patients rice, cooking oil, salt, beds and mattresses and would provide transport, if they went to the hospital. The patients however were reluctant to move to the hospital because of government hospitals’ poor services.

“We feel comfortable at this centre. And we were glad to meet Ahmay [mother] Suu. When they ordered to move us, we were sad”, one of the patients, Win Win Naing, whose home is in Dedaye town in Irrawaddy Division, told Mizzima.

She added that she would neither go to the hospital nor return home, and that she would take the risk of being arrested.

Suu Kyi had visited the community salvation centres in South Dagon and North Dagon townships on Wednesday to offer the patients encouragement and while there, promised them better medicines.

Sixteen patients at the North Dagon centre were not ordered into a hospital. Ohn Kyaing, an NLD spokesman, said he would find out why the authorities from South Dagon Township had in effect evicted the patients.

The HIV/Aids “salvation centres” were established by NLD young people led by NLD central committee member Phyu Phyu Thin since 2002.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 20 November 2010 01:36 )  

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