Freedom Memoirs – Day 182

The predictability of Min Aung Hlaing and his military council shouldn’t surprise us by now, but it is still baffling to discover every single time how backward thinking they are. Exactly 6 months since Min Aung Hlaing and associates took over the country, he announced today that the regime council is forming a caretaker government and extending the “state of emergency” for another two years before an election. The regime leader also had the audacity to appoint himself as the Prime Minister of this newly established caretaker government, and his right-hand man Soe Win as the Deputy Prime Minister. Still following the same playbook used by Ne Win back in 1958.

It is not surprising that Min Aung Hlaing is going back on his words to hold an election in one year. During his televised speech this morning, he pledged to hold multiparty elections without fail, but in two years’ time. We can only wonder what makes him think that Myanmar is thriving under his leadership. Within the six months under the military leadership, a total of 11 international corporations from eight countries have either suspended their operations in Myanmar or left the country completely, taking out millions of dollars they have invested in our economy. From Japan, beverage company Kirin Holdings, micro-finance firm AEON and automotive manufacturer Toyota; a tobacco company from Singapore; a real estate Amata from Thailand; Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotel chain; Norway’s telecommunication company Telenor, and at least four energy and gas companies from Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and France. One analyst told Myanmar Now that Myanmar economy is far from recovering due to no new foreign investment coming in, and many exiting or planning to exit in the near future, increasing the unemployment rate in the country. 

Min Aung Hlaing also mentioned today that his administration is open to working with any special envoy chosen by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). After months of delaying the implementation of “five-point consensus”, ASEAN diplomats are set to meet on Monday to finalize the selection of a special envoy for Myanmar.

During his speech this morning, Min Aung Hlaing also said, “At present, the whole country is stable except for some terrorist attacks”. Honestly, he is not wrong. Is he talking about his military lackeys and members of pro-military Pyu Saw Htee raiding a village in Magway Region’s Pauk Township on July 31 and looting money and belongings of the villagers? A resident of Pauk Township told DVB News that Min Aung Hlaing’s followers destroyed houses and looted almost MMK 2.3 million worth of possessions, and a sick 70-year-old grandma passed away from constant gunshot sounds. 

Or is he talking about how his military’s security members raiding every single household in Indaing Taw village from Sagaing Region’s Kani Township on July 31? A resident said the security members searched all 200 households of Indaing Taw village under the pretense of searching for something, but in reality, they looted food, alcohols, money and every valuable item, and discarded things that they couldn’t carry. In another part of Kani Township, residents discovered 12 dead bodies of the civilians in the forest near Taung Pauk village, including a 14-year-old boy and three men with signs of torture. DVB News reported that within July, over 60 innocent civilians of Kani Township have been killed, and with Battalions 33, 44 and 99 stationed in most of the villages in the township, many villagers are fleeing their homes in fear. We hope Min Aung Hlaing knows that whenever he mentioned terrorist attacks, the rest of us will work harder to expose all of these terrorist attacks that his military men are inflicting upon our people. 

Onto the good news, Deputy Police Chief of Ayeyarwady Region told Myanmar Now media yesterday that healthcare workers who have been charged with Section 505A are set to be released before August 2. The exact number is yet to be confirmed, the deputy police chief said, but around 27 are expected to be released. 

Today’s protest across the nation carried the message of condemning the caretaker government by saying, “Caretaker War Dog, Not Wanted” in response to the announcement by Min Aung Hlaing this morning. Protests were observed in Hpakant Township of Kachin State, Launglon and Yebyu townships in Tanintharyi Region, Salingyi and Yinmabin townships of Sagaing Region, and as usual Mandalay standing strong despite recent violent protest crackdowns. Six months of defiance, Six months of Myanmar people bracing the countless harsh waves of coup and Covid-19. Military regime acts like they have already won, but they better hold on for dear life because this fight is yet to be over, and if they look closely, they will see that we do not plan on giving up one way or another. 

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