Freedom Memoirs – Day 100

100 days ago, we all woke up to a silent world, with no phone or internet. The night before, we did not think military coup could be real, despite raging rumours, for we believed the abhorred 2008 Constitution’s utility in protecting military interests. That morning, our rationality was crushed under the madness of Tatmataw and its head, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Benevolence and brutality, courage and cowardice, pride and pain, a lot events enfolded since, however this chapter of our country’s history will take yet many more turns. 

Over the past 100 days, the protests and crackdowns have escalated and morphed into different forms. As of yesterday, 3843 people have been detained, 1561 people with arrest warrants are on the run, 781 people have been killed by the junta. However, although that is the data painstakingly compiled by AAPP, the actual estimates could be a lot higher. Armed conflicts broke off in Kachin, Kayin and Shan States between the junta’s forces and Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs); ordinary citizens across the country also began to pick up whatever arms available, formed Civil Defense Forces (CDFs) to resist junta, and both scenarios led to a flood of internally displaced people (IDPs), primarily due to scorched earth tactics by Myanmar military. Slaughtering of peaceful protestors has also caused a growing number of activists to seek out military trainings at EAOs. Sounds of bomb blasts have become a norm for many cities since Feb 1.

On the economy, the businesses activities are at a record low, the banking system has collapsed, and Myanmar Kyat (MMK) is losing value every hour (from approx. 1,350 MMK for 1 USD in end of Jan to 1,720 MMK today). The World Bank predicted the country’s economy to shrink by 10% in end of March, however recalculations over the year could hint an even gloomier future. The impacts of all these events will still be apparent even years after, however alarming points such as possibility for 3.4 million people ending up hungry and 1 in every 2 people in the country falling behind poverty lines shows the looming humanitarian crisis stemming from this coup d’état. Moreover, considering the country got much closer towards full-blown civil war since WFP and UNDP presented these predictions, actual humanitarian crisis could be even bigger.  And we are not even fully realizing the impact of healthcare system collapse and resurgent COVID.

However, despite these current hardships and imminent worsening of situations, the morale is high among the protestors, EAOs, CRPH, NUG and others fighting for the formation of a federal republic where democratic values and human dignity prevails. 100 days have been passed and SAC still has no legitimacy, no functioning government (much thanks to civil disobedience movement) and no compliance by the people. Surrounded by loathing masses, their forces are stretched between battle frontlines and protestors in residential areas; their response is even higher oppression which gives rises to further public resentment. This will not end well for the junta, yet we will need to endure perilous journey ahead.

In our current struggle, when junta’s soldiers and polices are deliberately delivering headshots, a poet named Khet Thi, passed away from torture during overnight interrogation last Sunday, wrote the following in defiance: “They shoot to the people’s heads, ignorant that revolution lies in our hearts”. As he said, the people’s hearts remain firm, and we will keep marching on.

Today, protests continues in many parts of Myanmar, the townships of Yangon, Mandalay, Dawei, Yin Mar Pin, Sar Lin Gyi, Taung Twin Gyi, Moegaung, Mawlamyaing, Hpakant, Pyapon, Taunggyi, Pyinmanna and in many more places. Led by students, teachers, workers, monks, and people from all works of lives put up the continued display of defiance. While, the resistance against military rule has always been the fundamental grievance in the protests, reopening of schools have become a key topic of protests as the junta is striving for school reopening and pilling pressure on CDM teachers, and it is no difference today. However, not all protests are organized harmlessly. In Kyaukmyaung Ward of Tamwe Township, police raid of the neighbourhood led to arrest of 5 people, and in Kyimyindaing Township, a mentally handicapped man was arrested for walking in the street with a flag in hands. In Dawei, 15 people, mostly women, are arrested while gathering to stage a protest. Soldiers also shoot to youths on motorbike unprovoked in Namate Township, Kachin State, leading to 1 death and 3 people to be injured.

Regarding battles, in Myingyan Township of Central Myanmar, battle between Myingyan CDF and junta’s forces are raging on, there is no confirmation on injuries and fatalities yet. Also, SAC forces are massively gathering reinforcements in Momauk Township, Kachin State. There, the strategic Alaw Bum Hill Station, which Tatmataw has held since 1987 was captured by Kachin Independence Army (KIA) at the end of March, and since then withstanding repeated group and air assaults by Tatmataw. However, this report of substantial reinforcements hints more intense fighting could be imminent.  

In other news, SAC announced that ousted Democratically elected government’s de-facto Head of State Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s first ever hearing in person is announced to be held in 24th May. She is facing a myriad of fabricated charges from illegal importation of walkie-talkies to high treasons and all her previous hearings were totally online, including a number of postponed hearing due to unreliable internet connections.

On the 100th day of Min Aung Hlaing’s coup d’etat, the country’s economy is sinking further and further. Today we witnessed exchange rate between US$ and MMK breaking hitherto unseen US$1= MMK 1,700 barrier. The gold price is also rising so much that many of gold merchants have stopped selling. The people are starved of cash so much that agents with cash in hand are charging as much as 10% to take MMK in bank transfer and hand over the cash. Since Feb 1, the Central Bank playing along the junta’s tune has repeatedly announced new guidelines not to cure the ailing economy but to appease the masters and every new measures have consistently caused panic in the market. Today, the Vice President of Central Bank of Myanmar warned against hoarding cash, saying utmost heavy penalties will be delivered to those who do so for as are deliberately harming the economy. The junta and his lackeys are trying to solve market problems by trying to gun down the market, and things are expected to spiral down further in coming days.

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