Freedom Memoirs – Day 261

Last night, UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews tweeted that the regime released thousands of political prisoners “not because of a change of heart, but because of pressure”, and he was not wrong. The release of prisoners was just a show because several of them got arrested again according to news reports today. DVB News reported that 11 out of 38 people who were released from Meikhtila prison yesterday were re-arrested on the same day in the evening. The 11 detainees are identified as NLD party members, including a member of parliament, and new cases under Anti-terrorism act are opened against them. It is a great relief that people like Mr. Tom Andrew realise that the regime’s amnesty is just a desperate attempt to act out of pressure. The international community must keep on pressuring Min Aung Hlaing & co. 

While some families reunited yesterday, family of Ko Lin Paing Soe was informed that their son had died in interrogation 18 days ago. Kyaukse Technical University student, who was also a Gurkha minority, was abducted on September 30 in Kyaukse. Known for their racism, regime soldiers tortured and beat up Ko Lin Paing Soe severely during the interrogation, and he died on October 1, just one day after the arrest. In an interview with Khit Thit Media, a representative from Naypyidaw Students Union said that his family only found out about his death on October 18, and they did not receive his body as well. This alarming incident warns that we must keep track of the arrests, deaths during the custody, and also lost people who might ended up getting arrested. 

A new case of death during interrogation reported by Khit Thit Media today. On August 12 before a scheduled Yangon-Heho flight, dried leaves were found in pilot tube, and thus, the junta forces detained and interrogated more than half of aviation engineers and admin staff from Air KBZ. The 33-year-old Ko Min Min Soe, the youngest aviation engineer from Air KBZ, was also questioned in interrogation center just like his fellow colleagues; however, Khit Thit Media reported today that Ko Min Min Soe passed away on October 17 due to severe torture during the interrogation. 

Last month, we reported the arrest of Ma Aye Nandar Soe, chairperson of Sagaing Institute of Education Students Union, while she was on her way back to Sagaing from Mandalay on September 19. Today, Ko Aung Pyae Sone Phyo from All Burma Federation of Students Union (ABFSU) told Mizzima News that whereabout of Ma Aye Nandar Soe is currently unknown. He said that her family and ABFSU colleagues inquired at interrogation centers in Mandalay and Obo prison where detained persons were usually placed, but they could not find her so they were worried for her life.

It is not new that the regime forces use excessive weaponry when they cannot combat fairly. We have previously reported that conflicts broke out in Northern Shan State between regime forces and ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) since the second week of September. Today, Myanmar Now reported that Min Aung Hlaing’s forces used more than 2000 heavy artillery shells of various kinds since October 8 during their battles against Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) in Mongkoe area, and on October 16 alone, more than 800 shells were launched. As the shelling fell into residential areas, six civilians including two children were injured in Mongkoe town on October 12. West of Mongkoe town, Pang Seng township also suffered artillery shelling from the clashes between regime forces and MNDAA. On October 17, one Pang Seng local was injured due to the shelling. 

On a related note, Kokang news outlet reported that a solider from the regime force Ko Htike defected and fled to MNDAA forces. Ko Htike served as a sniper soldier under the commander of Light Infantry Battalion 545, and had been in Kokang area since 2017. He first joined the army in 2013, but decided to defect after his young brother was killed during the Spring Revolution protests. Ko Htike said he is willing to fight for MNDAA against the military regime’s forces, but due to Covid prevention measures he is now placed in quarantine, as reported by the Kokang. 

Although the regime have better weaponry, its forces continued to be defeated. On October 18, Karen National Union (KNU)’s KNLA forces attacked the regime’s troops in Kawkareik township, killing five soldiers from the regime side including a commander and injuring six. As a retaliation, regime soldiers occupied nearby Ywar Thit village, and set fire to two civilians’ homes and a shop. About 50 civilians who remained in the village are prevented from leaving the village, but about 50 households that fled to nearby villages are taking refuge in a monastery according to Khit Thit Media. 

News came from Chin State that 20 regime soldiers were killed and 16 military trucks were destroyed by resistance forces in seven days. The combined forces of Chin National Front (CNF), Chinland Defense Force (CDF), Chin National Defense Force (CNDF) and People Defense Forces (PDFs) launched coordinated attacks at regime troops which travelled from Falam to Hakha town between October 13 and 16. Due to the attacks from resistance forces, the regime troops were stuck near Falam town and could not move towards the headquarters of CNF. While being struck, regime forces raided nearby villages, set ablaze to 20 houses and ransacked valuables from the homes. 

As usual, protests were observed all over the country both day and night. While marching strikes were observed in the daytime, protesters came out with candles on the night of Thadingyut Full Moon Day. While celebrating the traditional lighting festival, people of Myanmar across the country held up protest banners, rejecting the military junta. The spirit of revolution continues to grow regardless of the season change.

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