Freedom Memoirs – Day 137

Today, junta’s media heavily features its Minister of Defense and key State Administration Council (SAC) member General Mya Tun Oo attending ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus on June 15. It was the same day when entire village of Kin Ma, along with two elderly people who couldn’t escape, were set ablaze. For the SAC, ASEAN’s perceived recognition towards them despite its well-documented atrocities only embolden it to further commit one crime against humanity after another.

Speaking of Kin Ma, in the interviews with local media, the residents answered that they still cannot go back home due to presence of SAC troops nearby. The villagers who had attempted to salvage and reorganize this morning had to leave due to reports of SAC soldiers returning to the village, a resident answered to Myanmar Now. More than 1,000 villagers are now hiding in the nearby forest. Due to the total annihilation of all their possessions, villagers are worried about the rebuilding and future livelihood prospects. One villager, Mr. Be Tu was quoted as “All the yields from last year’s harvest were stored at my house. Now everything is gone with the fire, not even seeds stored for this year.” In the interview, the villagers also lambasted SAC’s media announcement of local People’s Defense Force (PDF) torching the village and SAC soldiers were at the village to fight the fire, claiming “The junta’s mouthpiece never tell the truth.” SAC’s media today reported that only 100 houses caught fire out of 225 houses in the village. The villagers claims to the local media that only 30 houses escaped the fire and repeatedly affirms that the burning was done by SAC’s soldiers. In a related news, a PDF member who was involved in the clashes before the torching claims that “We stay away from the village throughout and after the battle. But SAC troops entered the village deliberately to attack unarmed civilians. We will never hurt the people.” The junta’s troops have well-documented records on staging deliberate attacks on civilian population, both historically and in present clashes against ethnic armed groups (EAOs).

A mob comprising of junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) members destroyed four houses in Yee Htway Village, Kanbalu Township, Sagaing Region. The mob of 50 people was seen wielding clubs, swords and firearms and reportedly first gathered at the local USDP office. Locals mentioned that the owners of destroyed houses are NLD supporters, and since then NLD supporters from the village have fled after being threatened. The village has a strong NLD-supporting populace and the junta’s forces already conducted raids multiple times and arrested key NLD members of the village. Moreover, in Kani Township of the same region, a NLD supporter was found shot dead and locals are alleging that the culprits are the junta-backed Pyu Saw Htee armed vigilante group. In Min Kin townships, villagers are fleeing en-masse due to raids by SAC soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee.

In Kawlin Township, Sagaing Region, shooting spree by junta’s forces led to a 50 years old woman’s death. Moreover, 15 men were arrested under allegations of having connections to the local PDF.

Ko Thet Naing Win, a freelance reporter from Min Hla, Magwe Region got sentenced 3 years in yesterday. He was under custody since April 6th and charged with infamous article 505 (A), i.e. sedition.

In Demoso Township, Kayah State, while the resistance group KNDF (Karenni Nationalities Defense Force) have declared temporary ceasefire after mounting humanitarian crisis, the junta’s forces are still launching artillery strikes and shooting, according to local media. Demoso arguably suffered the biggest clashes and most severe destruction at the clashes in Kayah State and Progressive Karenni People Force (PKPF) estimated there are around 20 civilians killed by junta’s forces in Demoso and Mobye townships.

Today peaceful protests were observed in Yangon and Mandalay, Kale, Myin Chan, Salingyi, Yinmarpin, Monywa, Nat Mauk, Dawei, Tha Yet Chaung, Mogaung,  Hpakant, Kyar Inn Keikkyi, Paung, and other places.

In economic front, the junta controlled Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) enforces further restrictions on cash withdrawal. Cash scarcity has become the norm in daily life and its impacts on economic and humanitarian terms are visible, with businesses suspending or providing aids to conflict areas becoming more challenging. In the letter issued to private banks yesterday, the CBM imposes stronger restrictions on cash withdrawal from saving accounts and forcing private businesses to conduct their operations through digital payments. The order lacks recognition on people and businesses are demanding cash due to lack of trust on digital payments and the already collapsing state of economy. As with all CDM directives before this, this will only make cash more scarce and cast further doubt on the validity of digital payments or the prospects of the economy.

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