Freedom Memoirs – Day 165

COVID-19 has been rising through the sky and announcements from the State Administration Council (SAC), in past few days show positive test rate hovering at one in every three persons, a huge jump from roughly 12% positive test rate in June. Considering this is only from the reported tests, and majority of cases are not being recorded, actual conditions could be a lot worse. While the tests outside centres are difficult to observe by the public and media, the gruesome sights of death tolls have become all too visible. Unlike during the heights of previous COVID waves in Myanmar, for people under military rule, loss of loved ones despite every effort to help them has become all too common. Local media and CSOs estimates that daily death rate at major cities such as Yangon and Mandalay is between 500 to 1000. In an interview with Myanmar Now, three Yangon-based humanitarian support organizations answered that they have been helping to cremate at least 600 people daily, a sharp rise from previous daily body counts of 100. 

A few days ago we reported the junta’s restriction on oxygen. It has become an intense daily struggle, and oxygen-shortage has become main cause of death. Additionally, now the junta is pressuring pharmacies to stop operating, depriving people of access to even the most basic medicines during pandemic.

With junta’s oppression and weaponizing COVID, the people tried to stick together under the slogan “People for the people.” While it does not always work with inflating prices to profiteer from the people’s misery still presence, majority of people are trying to help each other. Today in Insein, South Dagon and Tharkayta Townships of Yangon, local students staged a protest/help-to-the-people by giving away face masks, sanitizing agents and other consumables and by sharing good hygiene practices to deter COVID, while protesting against military junta.

A major clash between junta’s forces and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) is reported today morning in Hpakant. The clashes started as KIA ambushed junta’s forces column marching nearby yesterday evening and situation is reported to be tense although the battle is over today afternoon. Detail accounts and numbers of casualties are yet to be reported, although preliminary reports indicate civilian targets were subject to artillery shelling, causing six civilians to get injured. Residents have fled the area since.

Today, the local media reports that Dickens and Madson lobby firm, hired by junta to project positive image at the international level, particularly to Joe Biden administration, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Israel and African Union, among other countries and international bodies, has terminated the contract due to its inability to convince Canadian authorities to drop imposed sanctions in order to receive payment for the services. Mr. Ari Ben-Menashe, a Canadian-citizen and founder of lobby firm, was quoted as having no problem with the generals and expressed his willingness to continue working for them, should the Canadian authorities were to be more understanding. Considering this notorious lobbyist has unenviable record of representing the most horrible people on the planet including Robert Mugabe and massacring Sudanese Generals, the legitimacy of Min Aung Hlaing is a highlight here.

Another news is the robbing of a junta-controlled bank in South Oakkalapa Township of Yangon, today morning. Local media reports that three people came to local Global Treasure Bank by taxi and robbed at gunpoint. The exact loss from the robbery is still unknown. The bank is originally founded under the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries under the previous dictator, General Than Shwe’s reign.

Peaceful protests against the coup and military rule are observed in Kale, Letpataung Taung, Taze, Dawei, Yay Phyu, Launglone, Thayetchaung, Monywa, Yinmarpin, Sarlingyi, parts of Yangon and Mandalay.

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