Myanmar’s former defacto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is being denied outside medical care for an illness that her son says is “urgent.” The former leader and current political prisoner was placed under house arrest in July, where she is being treated by a prison department physician.
“As far as I’m aware, she is unable to eat due to gum disease and potential problems with her wisdom teeth. Given her age, this together with vomiting and dizziness gives reason for serious concerns about her overall ill health and her treatment,” said Suu Kyi’s British-born son, Michael Aris. “My mother’s condition requires urgent medical attention. A request for urgent medical attention has been put in by the prison authorities themselves, I believe that that has been denied further up the chain.” (ABC)
“To deny a sick prisoner access to recommended medical care is callous and cruel.” Aris added, “Anyone who has such painful gum disease that they are unable to eat obviously has their entire health at risk if suitable treatment is denied.” (ABC)
Sources close to Suu Kyi and reported to have indicated that she has long suffered from chronic gum disease and low blood pressure, and the problems with her gums have grown worse in recent years.
In 2015, her National League for Democracy (NLD) party won a landslide election victory in Myanmar. However, Suu Kyi was constitutionally barred from taking the nation’s highest office of president, so members of her party created the defacto leadership role of State Counsellor of Myanmar, which she held until 1 February 2021.
After her party won again in the 2020 election, Myanmar’s military staged a coup, arresting Suu Kyi along with other senior party members. Suu Kyi has been detained on a number of charges since that time.
The coup led to widespread protests demanding the freedom of Suu Kyi and the restoration of democracy across the country. More than 4,000 civilians have been killed in clashes with the government, and another 20,000 people, including Buddhist monks, have been placed in detention, according to human rights groups.
Former NLD representative Bo Bo Oo has argued that Suu Kyi must be allowed to receive treatment. “When it comes to some health issues related to ears, eyes, bones, and dental diseases, only the relevant specialist clinics can provide sufficient medical treatment,” he said. “She needs to get proper treatment at a dental hospital.” (Radio Free Asia)
The National Unity Government (NUG) of Myanmar, a political party created by remnants of the now-disolved National League for Democracy and its allies, has said that the military is responsible for the healthcare and safety of Suu Kyi as a political detainee.
NUG spokesperson Kyaw Zaw said: “The international community should pressure the junta for the healthcare and security of all the political detainees including Aung San Suu Kyi.” (Bangkok Post)
Western governments and the United Nations have condemned the coup and demanded that Suu Kyi and other political prisoners be released immediately.
Aris noted: “I hope that the military will relent and allow her to see her personal dentist and doctor. Otherwise, I’m afraid that she will not live much longer because if she is unable to eat, food is life.” (ABC)
Aung San Suu Kyi in Ill Health – Source (VOA)
Suu Kyi requests for ‘urgent’ dental treatment go unheeded (Radio Free Asia)
Aung San Suu Kyi ill and ‘back in prison’ (Bangkok Post)
Myanmar’s ailing former leader Aung San Suu Kyi being denied medical care in prison, son says (ABC)
Related news reports from BDG
Myanmar’s Military Government Unveils Giant Seated Buddha Statue
Report: More than 20 People Killed in Attack on Buddhist Monastery by Myanmar Military
Anti-Myanmar Junta Buddhist Monk Sayadaw Ashin Arriyawuntha Biwunsa Dies in Exile Aged 71
Report: 13 Killed in Military Attack on Buddhist School in Myanmar
Report: Nearly 60 Buddhist Monks Detained in Myanmar Since Military Seized Power
International Network of Engaged Buddhists Issues Statement Urging Compassion and an End to Violence in Myanmar
Related features from BDG
Taking Up Arms? Meeting the Crisis in Myanmar
Peace, Planet, Pandemic, and Engaged Buddhism: From a Divided Myanmar to a Divided World
Myanmar: A Month into the Coup
The Other Shoe Drops: Reflections on Myanmar’s Latest Coup
A Reflection on the Intellectual and Socio-Cultural History of Buddhism in Myanmar
Sea of Suffering: The Rohingya and the Conundrum of Buddhist Terror
Buddhistdoor View: Reconciling Nationalism and Buddhism
Aung San Suu Kyi and Meditation