Freedom Memoirs – Day 169

Today marks the 74th Martyrs’ Day to commemorate the nine martyrs including General Aung San who struggled for the Burma’s Independence. Traditionally, a national level commemoration ceremony would be held at the Mausoleum in Yangon with the presence of all the leaders, families of the martyrs, leaders from diplomatic missions and local groups. States and regional level, township level commemorations would also be held where the public would join to pay respect to the fallen heroes. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of General Aung San, would attend the ceremony and laid a wreath at the mausoleum. Even in the time of the previous regime, the public would watch her on the national TV once a year. Today, the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing held the wreath-laying ceremony and personally attended the event. Since Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is in detention, some unknown men “representing the family of General Aung San” laid a wreath at the ceremony. 

The usual Martyrs’ Day rituals include visiting the Secretariat where the martyrs were assassinated and the General Aung San’s Residence in Yangon. Parents brought their children to these places and taught about the history. This year, all these places were empty, except the regime’s police forces who were providing security to nobody. But that doesn’t mean our martyrs are not remembered. We saw civilian-led Martyrs Day commemorations in Hpakant township in Kachin State, Depayin and Kalay townships in Sagaing Region to name a few. Nationwide, protesters took to the streets with banners which read, “There are more than nine martyrs” and “Martyrs don’t die” to commemorate the nine martyrs and 900 others who gave their lives in the Spring Revolution. Guerrilla protesters were seen in a few townships in Yangon while protesters from other parts of the country staged marching strikes and motorbike rallies . When the junta wants to keep us busy by struggling for survival, it takes courage, determination and perseverance to keep on resisting. 

Covid-19 remains an unresolved public health crisis and the regime doesn’t plan on solving it any time soon. This morning, the regime’s forces pretended to be Covid patients, contacted the local volunteering group which has been providing treatment to Covid-19 patients in Yangon’s North Dagon township, and requested for home-visit. When three volunteering doctors visited the home, the junta’s soldiers arrested them. Soon after, the office of the volunteering group was raided and two more doctors were arrested. Known for looting private properties, the regime’s soldiers seized more than 20 oxygen tanks and related equipment, PPE and other medicines. Khit Thit media reported that while some volunteers from the team escaped, the location of the five arrested doctors is unknown. To any sane person, pretending to be Covid patients to trap the healthcare worker is unthinkable, but we know the greedy generals will do whatever it takes to hold the power. 

Meanwhile, civilians continued to help each other in the difficult time. When an entire household is sick and unable to go out for medication and food, a white (or in some cases yellow) flag is held up to inform the neighbours for help. Volunteering groups prepared and donated lunchboxes for families like these. Oxygen supplies are still in demand for severe patients, and medications as basic as paracetamols are now out of stock. CDM doctors tried to provide tele-consultation and home visits but access to adequate medications and equipment is still very limited. According to Khit Thit media, local social welfare groups in Yangon said that daily Covid death toll has hit nearly 1,000 and the groups had to use private cars to bring dead bodies to crematoriums where caskets and corpses were piled up to be cremated. Although the social welfare groups and families of the deceased tried to be as sanitary as possible, the improper funeral services of Covid patients would only lead to wider spread of the disease. 

While the people of Myanmar struggle for survival in the raging pandemic, the regime’s forces hunted down and arrested the people’s defence forces. Last night, state-owned media reported that the regime had arrested Ko Tin Htut Paing and Ko Aung Min Oo in Yangon’s Hlaing township with small weapons and explosive items. If we recall, Ko Tin Htut Paing’s mother Daw Mi Nge was arrested and imprisoned by the regime back in May because Ko Tin Htut Paing was on the loose. Recent arrests of PDFs had people worried for the resistance fighters, but in an exclusive interview with Myanmar Now media, Yangon Eastern District-PDF’s Lieutenant That Tant reassured that the PDFs are determined to take down the regime in any case.

In Kayah (Karenni) State, the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) announced this morning that clashes broke out between KNDF and Karenni Army (KnA) combined forces and the regime’s troops in Bawlakhe township yesterday evening. Injuries were observed but details are not available according to KNDF’s statement. Around 11am this morning, the regime’s forces launched heavy artillery attacks on Kali Lya village and nearby areas, and more regime troops from Loikaw battalion had been sent for reinforcement. 

To end today’s report in a good note, a UNHCR convoy arrived in Mindat, Chin State today. According to its Facebook announcement, the UN Refugee agency will be providing non-food aid items to 5,000 people in need. We don’t know what kind of negotiations that the UN had to make with the regime, but it is heart-warming to see our people receiving much-needed aid items. We simply hope that the distribution won’t be disrupted by the regime’s forces in the coming days. 

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