Freedom Memoirs – Day 99

Only a day into 100 days under the illegal coup, so much has changed since ousting of the democratically-elected government. What the State Administrative Council (SAC) achieved out of the coup is that the public has no faith in anything it says or does. Banking is one example, the sight of people lining up to withdraw their money in front of the banks have become a daily common sight in Myanmar. Today the service charge for agents to withdraw money for the people increases up to 8%. There are also reports of ‘Wave Money’, a mobile financial service which people use to transfer money through mobile phones, agents who charge double from the sender and receiver. It is reported that they charge 2000-5000 MMK for every 100,000 MMK from the receiver on top of the transaction fees paid by the sender. In such a difficult time, there are always bad apples who take advantage of the situation.

The junta tries so much to return to “stability”, yet the protests across the country continue. In small villages and big towns of Mandalay, Magway, Naypyidaw, Sagaing, Tanintharyi, Kachin, Shan, Mon, and Yangon, varying forms of protests have not left the streets of Myanmar. In Dawei today, a pre-dawn protest of a ‘White Shirt Campaign’ where protestors wearing white took to the streets early morning. In Yangon at around 9:30am, joint-protest marches of Sanchaung, Hlaing and Kyimyindaing townships took place. With the military forcing educators to return to schools and forcing schools to open, online and offline protests of many educators, and students have increased daily.

In Yaykhar village of Sagaing, young students held a sit-in protest holding banners that read ‘We plead the parents, do not send your children to schools’. In Sarlingyi township of Sagaing, villages marched against the ‘military slave-education system’ just like protestors in Thayetchaw village, Dawei, south of Myanmar. Vandalizing state schools with anti-coup and anti-slave education system was also a common way to protest. In some online campaigns, students held a banner and placards that read ‘We are Rohingyas’ to call out the military’s brutal ethnic-cleansing campaign, and to show solidarity to their sufferings.

Many townships have announced the formation of ‘People Defence Force (PDF) today. A township in Yangon, Pazundaung joins townships of Yangon that have formed PDF several days ago. Announcement of formation of PDF in Kani, Chauk,Yinmabin of Sagaing are also reported today. People who are pro-armed resistance have now fled to jungles under the control of the ethnic armed groups, KNU/KNLA in the south and KIA in the north. Minister of Defence, U Yee Mon, today also called for young people to receive warfare training, and to join the PDF for protection of the country and the people. He also stated that he welcomes any soldiers who want to defect into PDF and to disregard the loyalty to the Min Aung Hlaing’s terrorist army.

This morning KNLA/KNU reported the deaths of 11 soldiers from yesterday’s clashes between two Karen-ethnic armed groups, pro-military Karen ethnic armed groups known as Border Guard Force (BGF) and KNU. KNU’s senior leader, Saw Kleh Doe, mentioned that around 600 soldiers from BGF have invaded KNU Brigade 5 territory in Papuan district to launch more attacks. He said the fighting will escalate within days with this arrival. This is very worrisome for Karen brothers and sisters who are already struggling with air attacks from the junta’s forces.

On the other hand, amid heaving fighting in the area, chairman of KNU, General Saw Mutu Say Poe today has urged all respective parties to refrain from violence and to maintain peace through Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) which many had thought was already broken by the junta’s forces waging war on the people. With a statement, he said that the KNU will continue negotiations and follow the NCA framework. This statement was not well-received. We all know too well that the junta and its forces are no man of conscience.

This daily entry is not without reports on deaths and abductions as long as the junta remains in power. A funeral of a beloved poet Khet Thi was held in his hometown today, and many locals showed up to pay respect and send their condolences to the remaining family. A dead body was found on the street of Hopin, Kachin state, today. It was the body of Dr. Sai Kwan Sai who was abducted from home on May 8. His body was full of bullet wounds and injuries from torture. Again at around noon today, four educators who are doing CDM were abducted from home. Due to fear of arrest and torture, many civil servants who are on strike have been on the run for months. We can only pray for our heroes in addition to providing support they need.

The latest news of today comes from Thailand that three reporters from Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Ko Kyaw Zayar Win, Ma Nay Ye Ye and Ko Nay Thwin Nyein, have been arrested in Chiang Mai and charged with illegal immigration, violation of COVID rules and regulations and broadcasting without permission. If they are deported back to the country, there is a big risk for their safety and wellbeing. So we urge Thai authorities to show mercy and let our reporters take refuge.

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