Freedom Memoirs – Day 79

Day 79 already, but protests are still staged in any way possible across the country. Writing protest messages on currency notes, folding protest and prayer origami cranes, posters with revolutionary messages, farmers’ protest chants during onion harvest, home strikes and marches have taken place throughout today in Chin, Kachin, Karen, Shan, Yangon, Sagaing, Mandalay, Magway and Tanintharyi regions. Even in the region such as Kale and Mandaly where violent crackdowns saw at least 30 people dead, protestors came out on streets holding banners that say ‘We Support NUG’. 

Tomorrow, on April 21, there is a protest theme in the memory of the late Hantharwaddy Win Tin, journalist, politician and prisoner of conscience that spent nearly two decades in the prison. It is to wear blue shirt and write a name of a detained political prisoner on one’s palm. U Win Tin’s poor health was exacerbated by poor treatment in the prison leading to his death on April 21 2014. Just like he wore prison shirt color ‘blue’ until his death for his resistance against the junta, we will wear blue in his memory in our resistance against the junta. 

Today, there was also a phone-strike with messages calling attention to violations of our individual rights. Personal phones are people’s right to privacy and not for the terrorist forces to randomly check and punish people on the streets if we are found “guilty” of defying the coup. Myanmar people in the 21st century have now turned back to keypad phones, avoiding any risk of being detained for keeping images or social media pages against the coup. There were also cases where people were even fined for using keypad phones or not having their smartphones with them. Under the illegitimate rule, we don’t even have the right to hold phones.

In fact, more and more people are suffering now from economic crisis due to Covid and economic disruptions came with the coup. Some businesses have suspended, and border trades have been disrupted. In China-Myanmar border, Myanmar’s watermelon trucks have been returned. As export of fishery products suspended, merchants now have to turn the business into dry-fish products. Regardless, people are trying to help each other to survive. Both crises tested generosity of Myanmar people; ordinary people together founded grassroots charity groups and launched ‘people-to-people’ support campaigns, and ‘If you need, take and if you have extra, donate’ campaigns where basic necessities and groceries are shared. Today in Amarapura, multi-religious groups such as Catholic nuns, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhist monks launched a campaign to donate food to 300 households in a poor neighbourhood. Myanmar people have also initiated #supportlocal campaigns to urge people to buy made-in-Myanmar products and local farm produces. In generosity of Myanmar people and in the culture of sharing, it made it a little more bearable to survive such horrible times. 

Junta just does opposite of anything benevolence. The terrorist gang loots, destroys properties, robs, abducts, kidnaps and kills. The terrorist gang cracked down Yinmarpin and Kani townships of Sagaing region for their persistent anti-coup marches and stationed near the villages. The raids of several villages in these townships led to villagers fleeing their homes to nearby paddy fields and farms and leaving the place deserted. It is reported that the terrorist gang not only destroyed homes, they also took precious items from the houses. Similar fate was witnessed in Nyaung-U township where famous Bagan is located. Terrorist gang arrested over 30 people and took gold from the villagers in Nyaung-U. Villagers have fled their homes to avoid being detained. In Mon state, they came to look for a CDM teacher, but without her being home, they took her family members instead. In Mandalay, nearly 1000 Myitnge railway workers who have joined CDM are on the run as arrests of CDM staffers, protestors, and anyone suspicious of resisting the terrorist gang continue country-wide. 

Myanmar people have welcomed the formation of National Unity Government (NUG), and call for international governments to give recognition it deserves as our elected government — the only legitimate government. Today, international trade union confederation has welcomed the formation of NUG, and called for it to be formally recognized by the United Nations, governments and inter-government bodies as the legitimate government of Myanmar people. Yet, European Commission still seems to hold the same strategy putting sanctions on 10 members of the junta’s State Administrative Council (SAC) and the military-owned businesses. It seems like not only the military is holding onto its 80s and 90’s playbook but also is the UN and the international community not being able to find tangible solution but spending resources on issuing empty statements and sanctions that barely work.

On a more positive note, according to RFA news, lieutenant commander Mr. Hein Thaw U has joined CDM from the military unit 99 and stated that there are more soldiers who want to join but unable to do so with threats and propagandas exist in the close-knitted military compounds.

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