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South China Morning Post (r)
South China Morning Post
Harsh ex-health chief 'died after hospital rebuff'
AGENCIES in Bangkok : A former Burmese health minister who mistreated
wounded protesters during a 1988 uprising died after a hospital refused
to admit him because he had no money, exiled students said yesterday.
The All Burma Students Democratic Front, based in
Bangkok, said Htun Wai was struck by a hit-and-run driver on August 11
The students said Htun Wai was taken to a local hospital
but was refused treatment as there were no family members with him to
guarantee medical bills, and hospital staff did not recognise the former
They did not cite a source or explain why the incident
came to light several months later, but the front has numerous sources
and contacts inside Burma. The story could not be independently
Htun Wai's family members found out where he was only
after he had already died at the hospital, the students said.
They said Htun Wai shackled pro-democracy protesters to
their beds in 1988 and refused permission for them to be treated.
The military brutally put down the August uprising,
killing more than 3,000 unarmed protesters.
The chaining of wounded protesters, and refusal of
medical treatment, was widely documented at the time. Several protesters
died from lack of treatment.
"Perhaps it is just retribution that Htun Wai . . . died
in a hospital after not being given any treatment," the front said.
"But what is more important is that in Burma today,
health care is only available for known VIPs and those who can pay," the
Since 1988, Burma's military Government has steadily
reduced spending on health care and education, while increasing military
spending from about 25 per cent of the budget to more than 50 per cent.
Diplomats have said many hospitals suffer from a lack of
The Karen National Union said yesterday its 11th annual
congress, held in secret near the rebel group's headquarters, had vowed
to continue fighting the junta.
"The military dictatorship is still waging its atrocious
war against the Karen National Union as well as the Karen people and
continuing its oppression against the entire people, and it is still
refusing to resolve political problems by political means," the guerilla
The group is the last ethnic insurgency holding out
against Rangoon but its small army has suffered a series of setbacks in
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