Freedom Memoirs – Day 171

Covid surges have increased unprecedentedly across townships in Myanmar. According to the junta’s MOHS, there are 5,860 new cases within 24 hours. American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognized Myanmar Covid-19 situation as a very high level “Red” and alerted travellers to avoid entering the country. National Unity Government (NUG)’s Health Minister Dr. Zaw Wai Soe, said the SAC was ill-prepared with prevention although the neighbors Thailand and India were suffering from the delta variant. With health system collapse and distrust of authorities, medical doctors warned Myanmar will not be able to contain the virus unless it took an alternative approach. Min Aung Hlaing’s SAC has so far detained 66 health care workers for opposing the junta. “Whole of Society” approach is needed where everyone proactively participates with cautions to contain the virus. Last year’s April, the rate of positive cases was recorded at 2% as the highest, and this rate jumped to 23% in early July. On July 17, it was recorded at an alarming rate of 39.12%.

In Lashio township, the Covid cases reached to a record breaking 160 within 24 hours including 40 policemen who have just transferred to the town. More than 100 died in Lashio.Yesterday, we reported that NLD Secretary U Nyan Win died with Covid, and today another NLD executive member of Western Hlaing Tharyar Township of Yangon Region, died of Covid-19 while in Insein prison. The numbers of infected persons inside the crowded prisons are still not disclosed by the junta, and it is assumed that a large number of prisoners are infected and refused to get the treatment. Myanmar Now reported that a large number of soldiers and their family members are also Covid-positive. Some higher-ranking generals and their wives were seen receiving treatments at the military’s hospitals. There is also speculation that in some areas, almost the whole military unit has been infected, and the generals are unable to control the outbreaks in the military compounds.

Even with the covid surges inside prisons, the junta continues arresting more and more people for non-criminal reasons other than disassociating with them or opposing them.In Mandalay, Myingyan township, a car repair owner was arrested as his shop refills oxygen cylinders for people, without cooperating with the junta. He was arrested together with four other people including two persons who came to refill their oxygen cylinders.Their whereabouts are unknown. Editor of Thanlwin Thway Chin News Agency based in Taunggyi township, Shan State, and her journalist daughters were arrested last night in their home. SAC has been raging war on journalists and news media since February. Out of 87 journalists that have been arrested, close to 50 of them remain in prison with the release of 45 journalists until June 30.

Junta’s crackdown on and clashes with People Defense Force continues. In Chin State, Mindat township, Chinland Defense Force (CDF) and junta’s soldiers broke a temporary ceasefire agreement facilitated by township’s elders. This morning saw a renewed clash between them. The battle resulted in an unknown number of casualties from the junta’s side with no casualty from CDF. Another battle broke out in the afternoon. They earlier agreed on a temporary ceasefire on June 23. Myanmar Now reports today that the junta’s soldiers’ raid on Palaing village of Sagaing Region’s Shwebo Township left some 26 PDF members dead and more than 50 injured. The junta’s soldiers had already killed four civilians who were on night guard before arriving and stationed in the village. More than 5,000 residents, the whole village, are displaced, and are now taking refuge in a nearby forest having to leave behind paddies and their homes. Aye Hla, the vice-chairman of NLD Kyaukdaga Township of Bago, died on July 19 at Daik-U prison from injuries resulted from torture during interrogation. He has been accused of providing training to People Defence Force (PDF) and in alleged possession of weapons.

In Mandalay’s Kyauksal township, a member of Pyu Saw Htee was stabbed by a local guerrilla group called “Thay Min Mhat Tana”, literally translated as ‘Death Registration’. The man killed was a leader of a pro-junta gang “Phyu Saw Htee” that threatens innocent civilians who are against the junta and act as informers to the military. In Mogok township of Mandalay region, SAC’s ward administrator was shot dead in his home by an unknown group of men. In Yangon, with covid surges, news of assassinations have become quiet as people struggle with lining up for oxygen and for their dead family members to be cremated.

Protests still occur in various townships such as Sagaing region, Mon State, and Mandalay and Tanintharyi region. In Sagaing’s Kalay township, people protested with a banner that called for a demand to breathe, “Let us breathe freely”. Sagaing’s Latpandaung also went on the streets although fewer in numbers due to Covid surges. Some women’s marches that started from Mandalay have also inspired many women from other townships to come out on the streets holding a banner that says, “Our sarongs, our flag, and our victory”. Women’s undergarment, ˜Sarong” previously had been shunned to be in public in Myanmar’s conservative society, but now they are held up in the sky as a flag of womanhood in Myanmar that aims to dismantle both the coup and the patriarchy.

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