Freedom Memoirs – Day 92

This morning around 8 am, a helicopter from terrorist military was shot down by Kachin Independence Army (KIA) near Kone Law village in Momauk township. It was a rare morning that majority of Myanmar people woke up to such a positive news. The location has seen intensified battle between junta’s forces and KIA since last month. According to the local news, junta’s forces conducted four airstrikes every day on the Kachin villages this week alone. As recent as a week ago, thousands had fled their homes due to constant air bombings. That is why the news of the destination-hell helicopter is much celebrated on the social media today. Facebook has warned that any content that celebrate or encourage violence on either side of this revolution will be banned. But little did Facebook know how many innocent civilians have been killed from airstrikes in the ethnic regions of Myanmar. It is nice to win one.

Less popular news on the related note is that at least nine civilians were killed in the same region by heavy artillery from military forces this morning. Local news said that it was a retaliation act for the helicopter that got shot down. However, we could not confirm the timing of this incident that saw a monk and a ten-year-old girl killed along with eight other Kone Law residents. It reminds us that for every terrorist solider that gets killed, they are ready to murder ten civilians and they are equipped to do so. While we celebrate the victories, we must be mindful of every day suffering of ethnic people in such regions and contribute as much as we can in accommodating with food and basic requirements for those on the run.

Zee Phyu Gone village in Mandalay region is known for regularly staging protests against the dictatorship since early February. Today, when villagers of all ages were joining “no school” strike as a boycott to fascist education, as many as forty junta’s forces raided the village, opened fires blatantly and abducted protesters. According to DVB news, many villagers including children and senior citizens are still in hiding to that effect.

Another celebrated news on the people’s side today came from Thaketa, Yangon where a junta-appointed township administrator was stabbed to death. The forty-eight-year-old administrator was known to be ruthless in oppressing local residents as he claimed banging of pots and pans was forbidden in his region. He once instructed terrorist soldiers to abduct an elderly woman for banging pots and pans and made her clap all night as a punishment according to netizens. However, this afternoon he was visited by three unidentified people in his office who put him out of his beloved administrative tasks. As a response, terrorist soldiers have been searching the area thoroughly in a desperate attempt to find the culprits. People argue finding those culprits might be as difficult as replacing the administrator because nobody feels safe (and proud) taking such role under junta rule.

Today is also International Press Freedom Day. This reminds us that as many as fifty journalists have been detained and six medias have been banned since the coup in Myanmar. Virtually in every country that practices democracy, freedom of press is highly encouraged. However, we have heard stories here that police and soldiers would deliberately try to find press people during protests, beating and abducting them. With that said, we notice on the front page of today’s Global New Light of Myanmar (forgive us for taking a look), the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing said during yesterday’s ceremony that, “Media plays a crucial role in the enhancement of freedom of expression for democracy, improving transparency of government by distributing knowledge to people”. We will leave you to decide what to make of it.

In all seriousness, we have seen the courageous acts of journalists from international news to small local teams who sacrifice their own safety to report the happenings across the country. Without those we will certainly be kept in the dark about junta’s brutality in many places, especially with the partial internet ban. As such, we really appreciate the jobs our reporters are doing and we demand the immediate release of those in detention. We are aware that the daughter of U Chit Naing, the newly appointed minister for information, works for UNESCO and promotes media literacy and freedom of press in the country. So we call on her to take action or at least speak out against the unlawful arrest of reporters/journalists.

Meanwhile, two new ministries — the Ministry of Human Rights and the Ministry of Labour have been formed by National Unity Government. The Ministry of Human Rights is headed by U Aung Myo Min, who is a prominent figure due to his continuous fight for democracy and human rights since 1988 while Nai Thuwunna takes charge of the Ministry of Labour. Two deputy ministers are appointed respectively and a new deputy minister each is announced for the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of International Cooperation. Now we cautiously await how NUG will swiftly take over power from the junta which seems like a more difficult tactic to make.

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