From Mandalay, Myanmar Jan 27, 2011
A few times here I have seen a dog lying dead by the side of the street. Tonight it was a man. He was dressed all in dark brown, lying face down. I could not see his features, only the crumpled body, curled up a bit, motionless. He was in the road, near the side. And it was as if no one noticed.
Traffic drove by, unheeding. Several feet farther back, just off the street, was a little drink stand tended by two young women. I’d come to this spot in the back of a little blue taxi which has room in front for one or two people beside the driver, and space for several more in the canopied back. I was in back with the thirty year old Burmese friend I’d been with that day,
My immediate instinct was to attempt to render aid, thinking that this must have just happened. Someone still in the street? Not carried off somewhere? Home, or hospital, or at least away farther from the traffic? My Burmese friend took my arm and said ‘no’.
‘You cannot get involved’ he said. ‘You will be blamed, and arrested. It would be terrible, they put you in prison, they torture you, you disappear. No You must stay here.’
One of the people from the front of the little blue taxi leaped out and ran back that way, I thought ah yes it must be that he was seeing to this person. But he was just quickly going to the drink stand. After he came back, we continued on. While we waited, I watched the traffic move by, unseeing, coming so close to hitting the crumpled body. This was ordinary. Just a dead dog by the road.
In Myanmar anyone involved in a collision is responsible for the other party’s hospital costs and for lost wages, and will probably be jailed. And anyone stopping to help is likely to be blamed. And yes, imprisoned.
Shall we say there is surely no Good Samaritan Law in Myanmar.