Via The Globe and Mail: Myanmar expels Doctors Without Borders, accuses group of dissension. Excerpt:
Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders) has been kicked out of Myanmar after two decades of caring for sick people in one of the world’s poorest countries, and the group said Friday that the decision risks tens of thousands of lives.
The government defended its decision, accusing the group of creating tensions and instability in violence-scarred Rakhine state, where it has faced repeated protests for treating members of the long-persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority.
“Today for the first time in MSF’s history of operations in the country, HIV/AIDS clinics in Rakhine, Shan and Kachin states, as well as Yangon division, were closed and patients were unable to receive the treatment they needed,” the group said in a statement.
As one of the nation’s biggest providers of HIV drugs, supplying treatment to 30,000 people, the group said it was “deeply shocked by this unilateral decision.” It also gives life-saving medicine to 3,000 tuberculosis patients. Even small treatment disruptions can lead to drug-resistant strains that are more difficult and expensive to fight.
A confidential document dated Feb. 26 said Myanmar’s presidential office ordered the registration of Doctors Without Borders “to be cancelled.” Presidential spokesman Ye Htut told 7 Day daily on Friday that the contract had been cancelled nationwide.
The spokesman criticized the aid group in the Myanmar Freedom newspaper for hiring “Bengalis,” the term the government uses for Rohingya.
He also accused it of misleading the world about the attack last month in remote northern Rakhine, cut off to almost all foreigners, including journalists and aid workers. The United Nations says more than 40 Rohingya may have died, but the government has vehemently denied allegations that a Buddhist mob rampaged through a village, killing women and children. It says one policeman was killed by Rohingya and no other violence occurred.
Ye Htut was quoted by the independent media outlet, the Democratic Voice of Burma, as saying that Doctors Without Borders claimed it had treated victims with gunshot and slash wounds. But he questioned that, saying the group refused to arrange a meeting between the government and the patients.
“We see that their activities, instead of offering assistance in the region, are fuelling tensions and are detrimental to the rule of law,” he said.
Doctors Without Borders said it treated 22 injured and traumatized Rohingya.