Freedom Memoirs – Day 159

When rest of the world is adapting to a new normal where most people have been vaccinated and they can enjoy the sports tournaments once again, the people of Myanmar are desperately looking for oxygen tanks so that their loved ones can take one last breath. We see heartbreaking posts on social media how hospitals refuse to accept Covid patients, and how the oxygen tanks are running out of stock or the price becomes doubled due to increasing demand. The price of face masks is also on the rise. In Wakhema township of Ayeyarwaddy Region, Covid suspect patients are no longer tested because of the insufficient test kits, and similarly in Kangyidaunt, another township of the same region, because there is no place for quarantine centers. Local residents said that the sports hall which was used as a quarantine center previously, is now occupied by the junta’s troops, and they refused to leave the hall, even to accommodate the sick patients.

People try to help each other out by borrowing oxygen tanks or sharing information where they can buy oxygen concentrators but the transmission rate is so fast and there is not enough facilities/equipment to accommodate the needs. However, Covid-19 is a national-level crisis. The junta’s Ministry of Health and Sports has imposed stay-at-home orders, and published guidelines for quarantine centers on its Facebook page but the news reports from the ground show there is very little junta has done to save lives. Without concrete strategy, resources and the genuine willingness from the state to help the people, the lives losses will continue. We do wonder if the regime is letting people die on purpose so that it can save the bullets. 

Despite the raging coronavirus, anti-military protests continued in various parts of the country. Today, we saw a motorcycle rally in Depayin township although the township was heavily attacked by the regime’s forces in the past weeks. In Kachin’s Hpakant township, anti-regime marching protests continued. Protesters from Mandalay joined forces to show defiance against the military council. In Yinmabin township, farmers were seen reciting anti-regime chants as they harvested crops. Guerrilla protests and marching strikes were also seen in other parts of the country. 

In the previous days, we reported that the regime has been desperately trying to collect electricity bills. Last night, the regime’s Ministry of Energy and Electricity made announcement on the national TV that the public should pay electricity bills or scheduled power-cut would be imposed. Growing up under the previous regimes, we are not new to these scheduled power outage, in fact, we know many alternatives to sustain ourselves in these blackouts such as using solar power, power generators. This morning in Yangon, explosions took place at electricity supply offices in Lanmadaw, Sanchaung and Mingalardon townships but no casualty was reported. Recently, bomb attacks on electricity supply offices also took place in Yangon’s Hlaing, Tarmwe and Thingangyun townships, and in Bago. While majority of the public is determined to boycott the electricity bill, there are still some people who choose to pay the bills and recent explosions may change their minds.

Although the military council seized power in February, it has only crippled the country in every aspect. Desperate, the junta has been trying sell gemstones, timber and teak, treasury bonds, rare-earth elements, and recently, state-owned land plots in six states/regions. Today, the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment of the National Unity Government (NUG) declared that the tender opened by the military council is not legitimate, and sold land plots will be nationalised when the democracy is restored. 

The atrocities of the regime’s forces have never been stopped. In Kani township, Sagaing Region, junta’s soldiers chased and attacked civilians who went in hiding in the woods. In some villages, the regime’s soldiers joined forces with Pyu Saw Htee members, and continued to arrest, torture civilians, raided and looted private properties in the name of “security”. Myanmar Now media reported today that Man Zar Myay Mon, a protest leader from Chaung-U township of Sagaing Region who was arrested by the junta’s forces on June 8, was brutally tortured and had his fingers broken during the interrogation. He is now facing five charges of incitement under Section 505a of the penal code. In Sintgaing township, Mandalay Region, local people’s forces clashed with the regime’s forces on Tuesdays (July 6), and as a retaliation, the regime’s forces raided a teashop nearby and arrested seven civilians including a 12-year-old boy. 

UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that millions of people in Myanmar will face food insecurity in six month’s time. Due to the political turmoil and instability, many Myanmar people have lost their jobs and incomes decreased, leading to poverty and food insecurity, and not to mention the damage caused by Covid. As long as the military council holds power, the situation will not improve, and it is devastating to witness our country spiralling downward. While we continue our revolution from within, we would humbly like to request the international community to support our civilian leaders from the NUG as they try to do anything in their power to hold the military council accountable for its crimes against Myanmar people.

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