UN calls for accountability after WHO worker killed in Myanmar

The WHO says Myo Min Htut was shot dead in Mawlamyine in Mon State in unclear circumstances on Wednesday.

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a media conference at an EU Africa summit in Brussels
The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for accountability [File: Johanna Geron/AP Photo]

The United Nations has condemned the fatal shooting of a World Health Organization (WHO) employee in eastern Myanmar, the latest death in a series of killings since the military government took over last year.

The UN and the WHO said Myo Min Htut, a WHO driver for five years, was shot dead on Wednesday while riding his motorcycle in Mawlamyine in Mon State, close to Thailand, in unclear circumstances.

The shooting follows what rights groups say is a pattern of violence, retribution and vigilantism in military-ruled Myanmar, where local administrators and suspected informants have been killed on a near-daily basis.

The military overthrew an elected government last year and has used deadly force and mass arrests to suppress demonstrations. Some civilians have since taken up arms to fight police and soldiers, answering the call of a shadow National Unity Government (NUG) for a people’s revolt.

Ramanathan Balakrishnan, the UN resident coordinator, said the UN was “saddened” by the killing of Myo Min Htut and that it “sends heartfelt condolences to his family”.

“The United Nations appeals to all parties and stakeholders to respect the neutrality of the United Nations and Humanitarians and further calls for all parties to protect the rights and safety of civilians and strongly condemns acts of violence against civilians,” he added.

The WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the death.

“We condemn all forms of violence, & expect an impartial investigation & the perpertrators to be held accountable,” he wrote on Twitter.

In December, two staff members of international aid group Save the Children were among dozens of people killed in a Christmas Eve massacre that was blamed on Myanmar military government troops.

Their burnt bodies were found on a highway in the eastern state of Kayah.

Armed group claims responsibility

The anti-military people’s defence force in Mawlamyine, which has pledged its support for the NUG, claimed responsibility for Myo Min Htut’s killing, accusing him of being an informant to the military government and of harassing people who joined strikes and protests against last year’s coup.

“We let him retire from this human world,” the Mawlamyine militia group said in a statement, describing Myo Min Htut as an “informer”, adding it had conducted its own investigation.

The WHO’s Myanmar office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations made by the Mawlamyine militia, Reuters news agency said.

The NUG, which the military government has outlawed as a “terrorist” organisation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Reuters said.

Source: News Agencies