Freedom Memoirs – Day 113

Today is the first day to begin the admission process of basic education schools, following the junta’s decision to force open schools amidst the ongoing global pandemic. Weeks passed calling for the protest against the ‘slavery education system perpetuated by the military’, and for students to boycott schools in refusal to give the military legitimacy that they desperately seeks. Non-CDM teachers were seen wearing plainclothes at the schools, instead of the white-and-green uniforms, to accept the students. Turns out not many students showed up to register for schools. Local news have been recording the data today to see how many students have shown up for schools, and it is reported that Putao town, Kachin state, and Chinkone village of Thar Paung township, Ayeyarwady region, and several townships in Rakhine state have a high number of students who came to register for schools. On the other hand, zero student registers for school in Hakha, Chin State, and Kamma town of Pakokku township, Magway region. We can safely say that students boycotting the schools in refusal to give the regime legitimacy is successful. 

Today in Bhamo township, Kachin state, the regime dismissed 127 lecturers and administrative staff from the university. The Guardian records that over 125,000 teachers so far have been suspended by the regime for participating in the CDM. It is also increasingly dangerous to go to schools as the explosions have been occurring in school compounds. A high school in Kale saw a bomb blast on the compound to which the regime forces responded with shootings. Many school compounds are now stationed by the regime forces saying they are there to “protect” people attending classes from rioters. Many children of soldiers and police today were also escorted in army trucks to schools for admission. Social media users say fear is no longer one-sided. Now the people have inserted fear in the terrorist group’s veins after they have been attacked by the people’s forces (PDF).

As we feared Kayah would be the next Bago or the next Mindat, Kayah becoming the next target of the military was unavoidable.This morning around 1am in Kayan Thahyah in Loikaw township, the military shelled the cathedral where many displaced elderlies and children have been taking refuge to avoid dangers from clashes between Kayah PDF and the regime’s forces. As a result of the shelling, four civilians died and several were injured. People were shocked that religious buildings were again targeted, but of course, not unexpected. In response, the local churches have placed ‘white flags’ on the church steeples to urge terrorists to avoid targeting the religious sites. A civilian was found dead near Noe Koe village in Loikaw township, he was believed to be killed by the military and his identity is unknown. Villagers in Mawchi village of Kayah state have started digging bunkers to protect themselves from airstrikes and artillery shelling. Meanwhile, the Kayah-PDF burned one office that was still operating under the junta and homes of informants.

Fighting continued in Yaeyo village in Loikaw. Internet, phone lines and electricity have been cut off to Demoso township just like they did to Mindat. Demoso was also targeted by airstrikes since yesterday’s evening. Locals reported that at the Kyauk Htu airport of Magway region, soldiers were transported out of the area in three passenger flights. They were previously transported into the area to crack down on the local resistance group in Mindat, Chin state. Now, the locals believe that these soldiers are being taken to Kayah State for reinforcement of their troops. Since yesterday, after the siege of the police station by the Kayah-PDF, tanks, reinforcement trucks and helicopters were seen around the town. Many police have defected from their stations overnight at Bawsai in southern Shan State after hearing the siege and killings of the police and soldiers by the Kayah-PDF in nearby Mobye police station. As the violence escalated nationwide, a small ethnic armed group, Shanni National Army shot a jade shipment boat in the Ayeyarwaddy river at Homelin township, Sagaing region as well.

In the northern part, An 11-year-old boy was shot in the head by the military regime in Momauk, Kachin State this afternoon. He was feeding the chicken when he was hit by artillery shelling. Regime’s forces have been unable to get back the Alaw Bum outpost they lost to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). Military’s helicopters landed in Hakha, Falam, Tedim and Tongzan townships, and the bank staff from the central bank were there to carry what seemed to be bags of money from the helicopters to the cars. 

For the first time today, Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in person at a court hearing, almost after four months of being detained in Naypyidaw. According to her lawyer, she looked healthy, but she was not allowed to receive information about what’s going on in the outside world so she could only do guessworks. In response to the junta’s attempt to ban the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, the ousted state counsellor said, “The party (NLD) was founded for the people, and it will continue to exist as long as there are people.”

In other news, Danny Fenster, managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, one of the still-operating news outlets in Myanmar, was detained at the airport this morning before he boarded on a flight to Kuala Lampur. The American citizen is now transferred to Insein prison, and the reason for the arrest is unknown according to Frontier Myanmar. Press freedom has been under attack since the beginning of the coup with more than 50 journalists detained. Meanwhile, state-owned newspapers keep publishing articles and op-eds on how the military had to take power to redirect Myanmar’s democratization to the right path.

With the coup eviler than the global pandemic, we have no luxury to think about Covid. Covid cases were reported in Rakhine previously. Today, four covid cases were reported in Kale, Sagaing region. And as usual, brave people of Myanmar continue to resist across different townships from the north to south. Protest rallies were seen today in Hpakant of Kachin, Pakokku and Aunglan of Magway, Salingyi, Pale, and Taze of Sagaing,Mingalar Taung Nyunt and Hlaingtharyar of Yangon, and Dawei of Tanintharyi. Our desire to reject the military doesn’t fade even after more than 110 days.

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