Freedom Memoirs – Day 120

Myanmar is now experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the region with more than 50,000 people displaced from their homes. A Nyein, a philanthropist and a doctor, wrote on her social media that children and elderlies have to continue moving through the jungle as no one place is safe. The military has no mercy to spare the civilians who have been taking refuge in the IDP camp in Eskan village of Mindat, Chin State, that put out a “white flag”. As a result, IDPs have to keep moving in the torrential rain with inadequate food and basic necessities. In Ka Paung Kya village in Taze township, Sagaing, families from around 700 homes, except for those who are ill, have been forced to flee their homes as the military continued to raid on the village. In addition to raid, random shootings, airstrikes and lootings on these villages, the military also targets civilians who are responding to IDPs’ humanitarian needs. Today, youth from Myitkyina and Mandalay were arrested on their way back from Bhamo IDP camp for sending basic necessities.

Today, the military declared an extension of unilateral ceasefire for one more month until the end of June, but to many people it is utter nonsense since they have been shooting the whole country dead since February. The military does it to protect itself to avoid battles happening all over the country with more than a dozen ethnic-armed groups. Some ethnic-armed groups that are signatories to Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) show interest in dialogue, which was warned by 191 civil society groups that having a dialogue with the murderous army will only make things worse. 

The battle between Chin Defense Force (CDF) and the military in Kanpetlet township, Chin State, from yesterday reported the death of eight soldiers from the regime and arrest of five civilians from the area. The regime, as usual, used heavy artillery as it did in Mindat, southern Chin state. The military also launched airstrikes on Demoso in Kayah (Karenni) state from army helicopters this evening and in Loikaw this afternoon. Civilians were scared and did not have shelters that protected them from shelling and airstrikes. Casualties have not been reported. The military did so in revenge for the Karenni People Defense Force (KPDF) occupation of the police station yesterday.

In the north, a coalition of three ethnic-armed groups called the Northern Alliance (AA, TNLA, MNDAA) hit the military infantry battalion 123 base in western Kutkai, Northern Shan State early this morning. Eleven military forces were killed including a deputy battalion commander. The alliance took photos of captured materials. Among those captured were drugs. Ethnic Kokang Media reports that the regime’s forces are using drugs.

In the south, an unknown armed group abducted two police and 1 firefighter from Wawlay Myine township, Myawaddy district. Bomb explosions were reported in Pathein, Bago, and Ayeyarwaddy today. Too often, bomb explosions were unowned. Civilians were unsure who are responsible for random bomb blasts but one thing for sure is that bombs that aim to hurt civilians and public properties belong to the military terrorists. Bombs that hurt them belong to the PDF or underground resistance groups. Today, CDF issued a clarification statement that bomb blasts in front of the Myanmar Economic Bank and the township administrative office in Paletwa township, westernmost town in Chin State, was not the doing of CDF.

Under the coup, Covid global health emergency was put aside for the coup being more destructive and life-threatening than Covid. Today, it is reported that a pregnant woman died from Covid-19 last night in Tonzan township, Chin State. Her funeral was held with people around wearing PPE suits. With recent Covid surges, people have been taking cautions and trying to follow Covid rules. Yet, it has been politicized. Myanmar military issued a stay-at-home order in townships that have been fierce in anti-coup resistance. Stay-at-home orders are effective today in Tonzan township, Chin State and Tamu township, Sagaing region where the military have been fighting PDFs. Given the public health system and Covid measures from the civilian government have collapsed under the coup, it is clear that the coming days are bleaker in the country.

And deaths and arrests continue. It is reported this morning that Ko Moe Myint Aung killed in Bagan on the morning of May 30 was the wrong person. Soldiers entered the wrong home, shot the wrong person and abducted the wrong people. As usual, no justice, no one to take responsibility. Again last night, the military wounded and abducted two women and a child during inspection in Pyinkyi village, Launglon township, Tanintharyi division. Some in the village speculated that one of the two women had died, but not confirmed yet. This morning in Tharsi village, Kale, Sagaing, military took at least 7 people including these brothers Ko Saw Min and Ko Aung Htet. In 120 days under the coup, 840 civilians died, and 4400 were detained according to the AAPP. Parents of Danny Fester, American journalist of Frontier Myanmar, taken by the Myanmar military at the airport on May 24, gave an interview to CNN and asked for the world to demand that the junta free him. The reason for his arrest has not been stated to this day.

The environmental problem in Myanmar also needs attention. Military, with sanctions on their conglomerates and council members, turns to natural resources to earn money. Booms in illegal logging and mining in ethnic areas (often border areas) with the presence of several militant groups (militias) are reported. Global Witness reports that illegal mining and extraction of resources including teak and timber has doubled in Kachin state and border areas with a large reserve of rare-earth. Residents of Shwegu reported that illegal logging of teak has been underway under military endorsement. If military rule becomes a reality in this country, both humans, natural environment and wildlife will be plagued by exploitation solely for their profits.

Today’s peculiar reports also include the military’s renaming of the controversial bridge over the Thanlwin (Salween) River that connects Mawlamyine and Chaungzon in Belugyun island, Mon State. The military today renamed it to Thanlwin Bridge (Chaungzon) from the previously named General Aung San bridge under the NLD-led government in 2017. This attempt fuelled tensions and sparked controversy that said that it was an attempt taken by NLD to Burmanize landmarks in ethnic areas without paying respect to local ethnic identity and history. This might be the military’s attempt to win favors from ethnic groups but only them knows their motive. 

Protests continue across the country as usual. People have taken risks and chances to show resistance — they hold flash mobs in tight security areas whereas they march long in a large group when the security is loose.

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