Freedom Memoirs – Day 172

Local media reports that junta’s soldiers robbed a truck carrying engine oil and consumers on 20 July evening and burned down the truck while arresting one trucker, based on the interview with escaped truckers. The incident happened near Yar Gyi Town, Sagaing Region and sparked by truckers’ inability to give MMK 300,000 the soldiers demanded. The two escapees answered to Mizzima media that the value of car and cargo destroyed is around MMK 100,000,000. The junta propaganda claimed the incident was undertaken by the local PDF, but it was being denied by the Yar Gyi PDF, saying extortion is a common practice by junta’s soldiers. The locals back the extortion of junta’s troops as claimed by the PDF. Currently the whereabouts of 29 years old trucker is still unknown.

With the repeated violations of ceasefire agreement by junta’s troops, conflict resumed in Mindat, Chin State. A local answer to the media that junta’s troops are gathering in the nearby area since 19 July with their direction heading towards a village with highest number of internally displaced people (IDP) in the area. 

In Kachin State, bombing of a checkpoint near Kamaing Town by local PDF caused four death from junta’s forces. The checkpoint’s military strength is recently expanded substantially, according to local media and the bombing comes as a surprise. In nearby Hpakant Township, clashes between Kachin Independent Army (KIA) and junta’s troops has become more frequent since last week and six civilians from nearby village sustained injuries as junta’s troops initiated artillery shelling towards the villages. 

Recently, conflicts sparks anew in Kayah (Karenni) State and the numbers of IDPs increased. In Bawlakhe Township, the combined forces of Karenni Army (KnA) and Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF)  clashed with junta’s troops between 12and 20 July, after the latter’s advancement to the area. While the clashes have ceased temporarily, humanitarian aid such as food, medicine, materials for shelter are in serious need for over 3,000 IDPs. The refugee camp organizers told to local media that the food shortage looms near as well. With junta’s forces shelling to villages, the number of IDPs is expected to grow.

Local media report that there were 29 clashes between Karen National Union (KNU) Brigade 5 and junta’s forces in past eight days. KNU sources claim that 26 soldiers died and 35 more were injured due to the clashes. One civilian was reportedly died as the junta’s forces fire towards the villages. The casualties of KNU Brigade Five are not disclosed.

Another clashes were reported at today morning in Shan State, although the identity of combatants are still unknown. Hsipaw Town is prone to conflict between junta’s forces, and three ethnic armed organizations, Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP) and recent conflicts among RCSS and SSPP was widely reported.

European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the European Commission’s overseas humanitarian aid department, today announced that COVID-19 situation in Myanmar is likely the worst in Southeast Asia and is expected to deteriorate further. The press release is further quoted that “The military’s seizure of medical facilities and equipment, the overall state of unrest in Myanmar, the collapse of the economy and the isolation of the country has led to one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in the world, now compounded by COVID-19. One ECHO staff member in Yangon passed away of COVID-19 on Wednesday morning. ECHO is rapidly initiating an increase in its COVID-related response.” The press release also take note of alarming 37% positivity rate on 22nd July, and state that the cases and deaths are severely underreported.

COVID Task Force (CTF) was formed by a collaboration between ethnic health organizations (EHOs) and National Unity Government (NUG). The CTF will be led by Dr. Cynthia Maung, a renowned humanitarian doctor providing healthcare services to IDPs and migrant workers on the Thai-Burmese border for decades and the deputy lead will be Dr. Zaw Wai Soe, NUG’s Minister of Health and former Rector of University of Medicine (1) in Yangon. Pado Mann Mann, spokesperson of KNU Brigade 5, also joins the CTF as the media focal person. The CTF will be staffed with responsible personnel and experts from EHOs and NUG.

Peaceful protests were observed in parts of Yangon and Mandalay, Launglong, Hpakant, Myaing, Paung, Taze and many other parts of the country. Protests were organized without being cracked down, although one protest group was disbanded due to heavy presence of plain-clothed polices in the protest area, according to Khit Thit media.

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