Freedom Memoirs – Day 121

Late night yesterday, two big developments came from Kayah State. The first was about Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) being founded by coalition of People Defense Forces (PDFs) active in different townships in the area. Local media reports that KNDF will operate under the legitimacy of Ministry of Defense, National Unity Government (NUG). Kayah (Karenni) State has been facing intensive clashes between PDFs and junta’s forces since May 21, and this development shows better coordination and cooperation among different local PDFs. The spokesperson of KNDF was quoted as “We are disciplined and dedicated towards uprooting military dictatorship. We have contact with NUG and CRPH, and they are lending supports to us, although they cannot fully meet our expectations. However, everyone is facing challenges right now and we the people understand that.”

KNDF also announced yesterday’s clash with junta’s forces in Demoso Township which saw 80 deaths from junta’s forces and one death and eight injured from KNDF. Due to heavy casualties of the ground troops, junta’s forces are relying massive firing from artillery and air-force, often with no regard or even staging deliberately attacks against civilian population and IDP camps. As a result, the town of Demoso today suffered massive artillery shelling with residents fleeing. Aside heavy clashes in Kayah State, there are also a number of clashes between junta’s forces and EAOs. In Hpapun Township, Kayin State, a clash lasting 20 minutes was occurred between KNU/KNLA Brigade 5 and junta’s forces, with the latter losing five soldiers, according to local media. Also, in the area south of Myawaddy town, Kayin State, clashes between junta’s forces and a Karen armed group separated from DKBA was reported. About 400 villagers have fled to Thailand’s border area according to Khit Thit media. 

June 1st is traditionally a day for reopening of basic education schools (elementary to high schools) across the country, although COVID put that into a halt in 2020. The junta with its aim to show the Myanmar society is running normally has been aiming towards the reopening of schools in June 1for months, and especially for entire May junta-controlled media has been spewing propagandas about how every student should be back to school. The reopening of universities in early May was utter failure with only a small fraction of students going back to school, and today’s reopening of basic education schools reflect even lower percentage. Armed soldiers are stationed within reopened schools and seen accompanying school buses, often in positions reflecting using children as human shields (i.e. soldiers in the middle). The junta’s forces’ record of deliberate attack against civilians, including children, is well-documented and continuing unabated. Therefore, most parents do not send their kids to school due to presence of trigger-happy soldiers or as a sign of resistance towards dictatorship and in solidarity with civil servants in CDM.

Today also witnessed Senior General Min Aung Hlaing attending renaming of a bridge in Mon State. As we discussed yesterday, the original naming of General Aung San Bridge to the bridge located in Chaungzon, Mon State under NLD government was a wrongdoing of NLD-administration and caused justifiable dissent among the locals. Yet, Min Aung Hlaing holding a national level event out of renaming (not even opening) a bridge only reflects his petty nature and cheap politics, and caused ridicule among the public.

Attack against mobilizers for humanitarian aid to IDPs have been more and more common as the junta tried to cut all aids to IDPs as attempt to pressure PDFs and EAOs. Volunteers helping in support of IDPs in conflict areas are risking their lives and donors and fundraisers from afar are at risk of getting arrested. Yesterday, Ma Phoo Theint Theint Tone, a member of Monywa District Student Union and humanitarian aid mobilizer was arrested in a set-up. She was supposed to meet with a potential donor, who turned out to be a policeman in disguise, and arrested by plain-clothed police at the gathering place in the town of Monywa. 

In Ayeywardaddy Region, the town’s market in Kan Gyi Daunt Township, caught fire today around 3:30am. Overnight, entire market is gone ablaze in a suspected arson set up by junta’s thugs. This follows similar patterns of fire on markets of Shwe Bo and a market in downtown Yangon, where no firefighters came to stop and junta’s forces threatened to punish any civilians getting close to fight the fire.

And as a sign of continued resistance, peaceful protests were held in Sagaing, Yangon, Mandalay, Kale, Monywa, Salingyi, Nyaung-U and many other places across the country.

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