Freedom Memoirs – Day 181

181 days into the coup, the looming threat of a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Myanmar. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that more than 170,000 people in Myanmar’s eastern part have been displaced. Due to the battles that broke out since May 21 in Kayah (Karenni) and Shan states, southeastern part of Myanmar has seen more than 120,000 people displaced. 

Around 11 am today, a fight broke out between Karenni coalition forces and the junta’s forces in eastern part of Loikaw township, Kayah State. Karenni coalition forces that include the Karenni Army and Karenni Nationalities Defense Force(KNDF). The fight took more than 20 minutes and casualties have not been reported. In Karen National Union(KNU)’s territory, approximately 77,000 people have been displaced due to the renewed clashes between the junta’s forces and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) according to Kawthoolei Today. Since farmers are unable to farm due to political unrest and financial hardship, it is projected that Myanmar will face severe food shortage and hunger.

In southern and northern Shan state, more than 22,000 people have been displaced, and up to 7,000 people still live in the temporary camps. Shwe Phee Myay News Agency reported that internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kutkai township have been only sustaining themselves on porridge due to food shortage and lack of humanitarian aid. In west of Myanmar, Chin State, more than 18,000 people have been living in 100 makeshift camps due to the clashes between Chin Defense Force (CDF) and the regime’s forces since April. During the 10-day-clashes between CDF and the junta’s soldiers in July on Mindat-Matupi road, casualties of close to 20 junta’s soldiers, and 12 CDF members were reported. Junta’s battalion commander, Lieutenant colonel, was reported to have been killed during the battle of Mindat-Matupi. 

In northern Myanmar, Kachin State, more than 10,000 people have been displaced due to recent clashes since March. This morning around 4am, Kachin Independence Army (KIA) launched an attack on the military outpost at Taunggone near the village near Namti township. Junta’s soldiers responded by firing heavy artillery that killed a 50-year-old man.

The deaths caused by Covid in Yangon have slowed down according to social welfare groups. Today, a volunteer from  a social welfare group reported the tragic death of an elderly woman who died three days ago, but unknown to an accompanying elderly man who was somewhat unconscious. Elderly man, unknown of the death of his wife, was seen looking after his sick wife whenever he became conscious. The news broke the hearts of many Myanmar people since we could only wonder how many are in need of help. Outside Yangon, Covid-related death toll continues to be on the rise. In Sagaing’s Hkamti township, one prisoner died of Covid this afternoon and more than 100 are infected. In Mandalay’s Myingyan township, more than 107 people died of Covid and more than 2900 cases are reported. Within a month, more than 780 people died in Pathein township, Ayeyarwaddy.

Yet, the junta still plays an evil game not letting people help each other. In Yangon’s South-Okkalapa township, the police dispersed people queuing for the Enoxaparin Sodium injection at Shwe Oh pharmacy since 4am in the morning. This injection is sought after by many in Myanmar, and it is frequently out of the market due to high demand. This is the same manner repeated by the junta’s forces to stop people getting help. The junta blocks necessary supplies of medicine and oxygen, they also continue to crack down the medics, healthcare workers and volunteers who are treating the Covid patients and helping their families. In Sagaing’s Kani township, SAC soldiers stopped people to get oxygen. The junta’s lackeys, ward administrator of Mingaladon township also forced the house to withdraw a white flag the family put out (a symbol that asks for a public help in need of medicine since the whole family is infected). 

Junta-appointed administrator of Sagaing’s Budalin town was killed together with his wife today. He was known as a Dalan  (informer) responsible for several arrests of anti-coup protesters and crackdown of People Defence Force (PDF) members. In Pathein Township, Ayeyarwaddy Region, Pathein guerrilla force has launched 11 attacks on the junta’s offices. The group also said they would always make sure they avoid public spaces where ordinary civilians gather. Last night, two young men were arrested and are accused of a blast at Pathein police station. Junta’s forces today raided and set fire to Won Chon village after hearing about local PDF, southern part of Pauk township, Magway region. They also fired heavy artillery shells which caused civilians to flee.

The junta also continues with violent crackdown on the protesters. Again in Mandalay today, Khit Thit media reported that 11 Mya Taung Strike’s protesters were arrested, and one was reported to be shot dead. Another strike, Mandalar University Strike was also cracked down by the military using a private vehicle which resulted in an arrest of one protester. Within a week, five of Mandalay protesters were shot, resulting in three deaths. On July 27, a 25-year-old Ma Thu Thu Zin was shot dead. Her family held a funeral service burying her belongings instead of her body today since the soldiers did not return the body. 

Despite all the violence, protesters from different regions still took to the streets today. This morning, in Sagaing region’s  Ayardaw, Taung Latt, and Monywa townships, anti-coup volunteers vowed to fight against both the virus and the coup sharing photos of them aiding the fight against coronavirus while staging a protest against the coup at the same time. Protests are observed from north to south of Myanmar: Kalay, Longhkin, Amarapura, Latpandaung, Yinmarpin, Salingyi, and Launglon townships. With this mighty unity and resilience, we believe it is a matter of time, we will win this dual fight against the virus and the military. Until then, we will keep faith with our struggle.

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