Freedom Memoirs – Day 163

These days, COVID-19 dominates the people’s mind. Instead of hospital beds and care, oxygen have become more prized. After announcing of restrictions on oxygen availability yesterday, around 10pm soldiers forcefully dispersed the crowd queuing for oxygen tank filling at an industrial zone in Yangon and reportedly arrested some, according to media reports.

Additionally, local media reports that corpses are piling up at Yay Way cemetery in Yangon City today, due to COVID-related deaths straining funeral capacity. Junta-controlled state media announced there were 89 COVID-related deaths for 12th July, however that number is widely seen as underreported as it covers only the death tolls from junta-controlled health centres, whereas most of the cases and fatalities occur at homes. Junta’s attack on health and restriction on essential items such as oxygen are causing COVID to get out of control and rocketing death tolls.

Supply chain disruptions stemming from rising COVID is also proving to be problematic. At the moment China has closed border gate along Myanmar border, hampering importation of emergency response items for COVID. Additionally, Thai authorities have put restrictions on medical exports due to rising needs at Thailand along with COVID cases. SAC also announced today that border trade between Myanmar and Bangladesh will be suspended between 15th and 30th July due to rising COVID cases.

Capitalising COVID is just one of the many measures in junta’s attempt to kill off resistance and general public, active measures are also proactively being pursued by junta’s soldiers throughout the country. In Tamu Town, Chin State, junta’s force killed four young men on July 10, and cremated the corpses at once, local media reported today based on interviews with family members. Locals support the families’ claims by confirming a group consisting six young men got shot, killing two on the spot, while the other two died during custody.

We reported previously that junta’s force had abducted three family members of U Soe Htay, a prominent protester from Mogok, the five year old daughter was released after two weeks in detention. Today, Myanmar Now reported that the wife and 18 year old daughter got sentenced for 3 years in prison. It also said that the daughter require medical attention for preexisting diseases and also due to torture during interrogation.

Also, in Kani Township, Sagaing Region, on July 8, junta’s soldiers combed through the forests for internally displaced people (IDPs) with a force consisting of 100-200 soldiers, slaughtered 15 IDPs and robbed their possessions, witnesses answered to local media. The photos received by the media show tied up corpses with signs of torture. Locals claim that the IDPs were captured at where they were seeking refuge, and slaughtered after getting rounded up. The ransacked camps and destroyed possessions in the nearby area seem to reflect their statement. The area currently has over 10,000 IDPs and villagers claim the junta’s troops are looting whatever that can be moved and deploying scorch earth tactics such as poisoning the village wells with pesticides found at the villages, in interviews with Myanmar Now.

However, the day did not pass without junta’s minor losses as well. There was a bombing attack on a military truck in Myingyan township of Mandalay Region, injuring at least three soldiers according to the local witnesses. As a retaliation, troops went on a shooting spree in town and that harmed a woman from nearby barbecue shop. 

On international front, the USA yesterday called out genocides and atrocities happening in six countries including Myanmar, under the report on genocide and atrocities prevention. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was quoted  “This year, for the first time, the report provides direct detailed accounts of atrocities taking place in specific countries … We will use all of the tools that are at our disposal, including diplomacy, foreign assistance, investigations in fact-finding missions, financial tools and engagements, and reports like this one, which raise awareness and allow us to generate coordinate international pressure and response.”

For today, peaceful protests are observed in Salingyi, Thayet Chaung, Launglon, Kale, Moegaung, Yay Phyu, Mongywa, Myaing, Yinmarbin Tazal, Nat Mauk,Paung, parts of Yangon and Mandalay. Most protests were staged and disbanded before suppressions, however Mya Taung+Mandalar protest in Mandalay got cracked down and seven people got arrested, one with a bullet wound, according to reports.

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