Freedom Memoirs – Day 199

On August 16, we reported that a secret directive from the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) instructing private banks, mobile money and other financial institutions to take detailed records of every online transaction to track the public involvement towards National Unity Government’s (NUG’s) Nwayoo Lottery and raffle, was leaked on social media. On the same day, the Independent Economists for Myanmar (IEM) issued a damning report titled Myanmar’s Banking Crisis, and claimed catastrophic mismanagement had triggered a full-scale banking crisis. 

The report mentioned “State Administrative Council (SAC) management of the crisis has been incompetent, and potentially even designed to ruin some banks,” and had turned some banks into “zombies” as the value of their assets seems to be below the level required to cover their liabilities. The report argues that SAC had made things worse by arresting four of the country’s leading financial experts, suspending more than two hundred staffs at the Central Bank of Myanmar, stopping depositors from accessing most of their money and using threats of arrest to force people to place their cash into banks. Repeated use of threats and arrests shake up confidence in the economy and financial system instead of building up, and Myanmar Kyat (MMK) to US$ exchange rate which hovered around 1,300 MMK to 1 USD in months before coup has since turned to 1,800 MMK to 1 USD. The economy is in ruin and SAC is still trying to shoot its way out.

Despite poor prospects of the economy Min Aung Hlaing is either unaware or apathetic. Local media today reported his dream to revamp Nay Pyi Taw into a mega-city. He mentioned idea to expand Nay Pyi Taw to a city of 20millions people with mega urban projects, electric buses, metro stations during Nay Pyi Taw City Development Committee meeting. With currency at lowest value on record, GDP decline forecasted to be biggest in history (-18% by the World Bank) and one out of two people to fall under poverty line (UNDP), his dream fail to impress both experts and general populace alike.

In Thaton Township, Mon State, SAC soldiers opened fire towards villagers traveling in the streets which led to two deaths. Local witnesses confirmed that those killed were men in early 20s who got shot as they drove away their motorbike from soldiers. Another two men on a different bike were also arrested. The shooting occurred in an area with substantial KNU Brigade 1 presence, and an officer of KNU Brigade 1 confirms the shooting, saying, “Those who got shot were part of our armed group, and just civilians. We are gathering information on it, but with SAC troops stationing in the village, our men cannot enter to gather information yet.” The villagers were, along with majority of populace in the country, known to dislike the junta and previously staged protests against military rule and the coup.

In Mindat Town, Chin State, heavy clashes were happening at almost daily basis between SAC forces and Chin Defense Force (CDF). Yesterday, one-hour intense battle saw 9 casualties from the former. One soldier was captured alive by CDF. The SAC soldier is wounded on his left cheek and currently receiving medical treatments, according to spokesperson of CDF.

Since coup there has been over 100 arrested and 80 deaths at the hands of junta’s forces in Kayah (Karenni) State, Karenni Human Rights group announced recently. Heavy clashes between junta’s forces and local defense forces began in May and so far over 120,000 people are internally displaced, in a state with less than 300,000 populations (2014 census).

Sithu Aung Myint, a prominent journalist was arrested on 15th August in Yangon. He is known for political commentary works for local and overseas press and a critic of military, and was in hiding recently after SAC charged him under sedition act. A female journalist who is reportedly working for BBC Media Action was also arrested after finding her together with Sithu Aung Myint. Since February 1st, over 100 journalists have been arrested and roughly 40 are under detain at the moment.

Also in today, peaceful protests were observed in parts of Yangon and Mandalay, Dawei, Hpakant, Yinmarbin, Salingyi, Myaing, and among other places.

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