Freedom Memoirs – Day 151

Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing has no right in the first place to arrest anybody who is rightfully protesting against him. Thus, nobody shows even a slight gratefulness towards junta for releasing more than 2,200 detainees from respective prisons across the country yesterday. No act will undo the murders of (at least) 883 people who were brutally killed during the previous five months. Instead, netizens have overwhelmingly expressed appreciation and warm support to those who had gone through hardships behind the bars fighting for our freedom. Whether it is international pressure or another trick up junta’s sleeves, we are delighted to have welcomed back our heroes. We hope they can take a break which they so deserve and recharge for the journey ahead.

Ma Su Htet Wine, the youngest detainee of the spring revolution aged five, was among those who were released. Along with her sister and her mother, she was arrested in Mogok when junta could not find her father U Soe Htay, one of the protest leaders in the region. Her mother and sister have remained in prison although the little child escaped. U Soe Htay posted on Facebook today that her daughter was unresponsive when asked about her experience but she said to him that she was not well fed and that she had had to use toilet water for bathing inside the cell. And she also asked if Grandma Suu (Aung San Suu Kyi) was released and frowned when she heard the answer “no”. U Soe Htay expressed his fears for his little daughter who would take some years to overcome the trauma at such young age.

According to Assistant Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), there are about 3,000 people remain under detention and we must keep speaking out for their release. Frontier Myanmar’s Managing Editor Danny Fenster has not been released yet and the magazine filed a complaint letter with the court today that its editor was arrested because the police thought he was currently working for Myanmar Now despite his departure from said media in July 2020. Myanmar Now is one of the media outlets that have received extreme hatred from junta because it has consistently investigated and reported stories behind their power, wealth and investments.

U Bo Kyi, the joint secretary of AAPP, said “The junta is releasing people whilst arrests go on. The international community must not accept this as a relaxation. Real change must apply pressure to stop the violence and release all of the political prisoners. We have been dealing with this junta for decades, they will not be removed unless there is intense pressure. Releasing some political prisoners does not mean Burma will return to a civilian government the people want”. One of the popular protest chants in the early days goes like this: “Don’t try to trick us with the same old 1988 tactics”. It is relieving to learn nobody is buying junta’s lies anymore. Not even the international community.

It did not take long to prove the above point. On the same day of the release, the news came in from Kachin State that Tarmakhan strike from Hpakant township was cracked down in the evening and four protesters were arrested. Also in Mandalay region, junta’s forces stormed into Nganzun township, arresting NLD village chairman and administrator from Mingyo Sanpya village around 8pm. On the same night, one villager was violently abducted from his own home in Pyaykan village, Mingin township of Sagaing region. These events show that junta is no way getting softer, at best it is preparing for the new arrests.

Yesterday, 11 Yangon-based guerrilla task forces released a joint statement which included internal guidelines, general guidelines, principles and mission. Internal guidelines instruct freedom fighters “to follow the guidelines of National Unity Government (NUG), to respect human rights and individual freedom and to practice democratic practices”. General guidelines included “never to harm or put fears to fellow citizens, never to initiate operations in public places and never to give up”. The missions read “to liberate and defend Yangon, to initiate operations against fascist military and to participate in establishing a federal nation”.

Non-political yet coup-related news that received attention on social media today was the departure announcement of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. The US based pretzel chain penetrated Myanmar market in 2019 and it shortly became one of the popular rest shops of various malls in Yangon. Three years into the operations, Auntie Anne’s has now planned to leave the golden land by August. Its statement mentioned “the changing operating environment has led to our decision of closing down the Auntie Anne’s outlets”. Moreover, a Bangkok-based fashion brand called Jelly Bunny, a popular bubble tea chain named KOI and Little Sheep Hotpot chain have also decided to part ways with Myanmar consumers. We have only heard similar news since the coup and it is understandable why the companies no longer wish to invest in a country run by such comical characters who has nothing but guns. It has become our duty to keep fighting them; otherwise, we are likely to end up with Chinese pretzels and junta-sponsored fashion shops.

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