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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 
in Rangoon.
                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 
students said.
                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 
group said.
                The group is the last ethnic insurgency holding out 
against Rangoon but its small army has suffered a series of setbacks in 
recent months.

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