Freedom Memoirs – Day 262

Today’s the full moon day of Thadingyut in Myanmar, also known as lighting festival, originally set out to welcome the Buddha’s descent after he preached Abhidhamma to his mother, Maya. Although it’s a Buddhist tradition, the day is marked as one of the major religious holidays widely celebrated by the public. People normally participate in the festival by decorating their homes with candles, lights, and lanterns while young people visit older family members to pay homage. In any given year, the day would have been full of blessing and happiness shared among the families. However, this year it was rather kept quiet due to the ongoing coup. Some of our friends are spending their days behind the bars, some have had to desert their homes to escape abduction, and some have been staying in the jungle for months to fight back the junta. The least we can do is show some respect towards the families that cannot be together anymore.

Battles between junta’s forces and People Defense Forces (PDFs) have intensified in Sagaing Region yesterday and today. Joint forces of Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and PDF have been clashing against junta’s soldiers in Inndaw Township, Sagaing Region since October 19 and many casualties suffered from junta’s side according to locals. Two trucks full of regime’s soldiers were targeted with detonated landmines in Hteegyaint Town yesterday and at least 20 soldiers were killed, a Hteegyaint PDF (HPDF) member told Myanmar Now. Following the attack, junta’s forces retaliated by shooting indiscriminately towards the villages and an artillery shelling fell near a school compound. HPDF has warned the people not to use Mandalay-Bamaw Road and Mandalay-Myitkyina Road due to on-going operations after 8pm. And a fuel bowser tank was attacked with a bomb for disobeying the curfew this morning around 4am.

Tensions continued in many states and regions. This morning around 7am, a well-known military informer named Cho Win from Pathein City, Ayawaddy Region was attempted on his life and admitted to the hospital immediately with severe injuries. Pathein Special Task Force (PSFF) claimed the responsibility. Another military informer called Moe Hein was also murdered in his own home in Yephyu Township, Dawei District of Tanintharyi Region this morning around 10.30am. Bago Region PDF released a statement that they had attacked junta’s soldiers assigned for security duty at a military owned MyTel tower in Paungde Township, Bago Region this morning and five soldiers were killed. More military owned Mytel towers in Yesagyo Township, Magway Region and in Oakshitpin, Bago were also destroyed by the local PDFs last night and this morning.

A video footage circulated on social media today which showed a civilian detained in Ayardaw Township, Sagaing Region was being beaten and tortured in an open field under the sun. A source closed to military told DVB that it’s a routine act carried out by junta’s forces on all detainees. About 60 people from Ayardaw have been detained since the coup and only one was released so far. In Sartaung Town, Sagaing Region, regime’s soldiers reportedly disguised as health workers in raiding a training center of a local PDF on October 17. On that day around 5am, about 30 regime soldiers arrived at the scene in ambulance motorbikes, deceiving the PDF members and launched an hour-long attack that saw two PDF members dead and one detained. Two heroes lost were 23-year-old engineering student Ko Zaw Htet Aung and 30-year-old Ko Myo Ko Ko.

DVB reported today that administration system in Yaw Area, Magwe Region has nearly collapsed as over 250 ward administrators have resigned from their positions according to a member of Yaw Defense Force (YDF). Yaw is located on the main transportation route between Sagaing Region and Chin State and strategically key to revolution in such areas. Junta has deployed more reinforcements in Chin State and border of Sagaing and Magwe regions recently, preparing for warfare. YDF has requested the public to monitor and report to them about the operations of junta’s forces. About seven policemen defected to YDF in October. 

One good news comes from Karen State that a medical college will be established in collaboration among four ethnic armed organizations such as Kachin National Union (KNU), Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), Border Guard Forces (BGF) and the KNU/KNLA Peace Council (KPA). Land plot is already selected and marked for the medical college.

U Aung Naing Oo, junta’s appointed minister for Investment and Foreign Economics Relations told Reuters during a video interview that some of Myanmar economic woes are partly due to foreign-back sabotage. Although he did not name any names, U Aung Naing Oo said he had some evidence of foreign interference and junta-appointed authorities including himself are trying the best to revive the economy. U Aung Naing Oo used to be one of the very few respected individuals before he joined junta’s cabinet and yet his recent outburst kept defying that he should be considered in the same category as his fellow ministers. In the meantime, UK announced Min Aung Hlaing will not be invited to G7 ASEAN meeting in December. Although a video call was not ruled out, it’s another diplomatic blow for SAC just a few days after ASEAN summit snub.

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