Freedom Memoirs – Day 281

A year ago today, people of Myanmar casted their votes in 2020 General Election regardless of raging Coronavirus. Although many knew that 2008 Constitution was not the ideal political system that we wanted, long queues in front of polling stations in very early morning proved that people wanted democracy; power in their ballot cards, not at the tip of a gun. To many ordinary people, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, was a glimpse of hope to a better future, and hence, landslide victory of the NLD was witnessed for the second time in Myanmar’s limited period of quasi-democracy, until Min Aung Hlaing disrespected our votes with continuous accusation of “election fraud” and a military coup. It is so unfortunate that, after a year, we have to continue fighting for the country’s fate to escape from the curse of military dictatorship. 

With the spirit of defiance, protesters across the country came out today chanting, “Min Aung Hlaing will never get to rule us,” to mark the anniversary of November 8 election. Marching rallies were observed in Mandalay City, Kalay, Yinmabin, Taze townships of Sagaing Region, Hpakant Township of Kachin State, Launglon Township of Taninthayi Region, and in Yangon’s North Okkalar Township, a protest banner against the regime’s education was hung at No. 4 State High School of the township. Despite the regime’s violence, protesters continue to express their rejection towards the military regime to this day. 

Meanwhile, the regime has continued to oppress democratic forces in the most ruthless ways. Today, Ma Thinzar Zaw, a member of Dagon University Students’ Union, was sentenced to 10-year imprisonment by the military court under Penal Code 124B which criminalised any attempt to bring into hatred or contempt, or excite disaffection towards the government. She was detained by the junta on September 14 with five other university students in Yangon. One of the detainees Ko Sithu Aung has also been jailed for 10 years on November 3. Last night, the regime’s television released a photo of 88 Generation Leader Ko Jimmy, who was violently arrested in late October, with weapons, accusing him of carrying out “terroristic operations”. From Ne Win and Than Shwe to now Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar’s generals have long seen young and educated students as threats that would shake the status quo. 

The regime soldiers’ killing spree knows no bounds. Yesterday, junta soldiers entered and raided Pauk Pin village in Monywa Township to search for protesters. Feared of the soldiers, mentally ill Ma Mya Lay Nwe, 28, ran away but she was shot and killed with two gunshots according to Khit Thit Media. Again in Kwan Chan Kone Township of Yangon Region, a 19-year-old Maung Zin Wai Aung was arrested by junta soldiers on November 5, and he was killed during the interrogation on November 6. His family was informed about the death by regime soldiers today. 

Started out as non-violent protests against the regime, we have come to accept that armed revolution is inevitable with this murderous military of Min Aung Hlaing. War has been raging in many parts of the country. On Mindat-Matupi highway of Chin State, regime forces and Chinland Defense Force (CDF) Mindat clashed around 1pm today, killing more than 10 soliders from the regime’s side and destroying an armoured military truck according the CDF Mindat’s spokesperson Ko Yaw Man. He said that no casualty was reported from their side. In Karen State, Karen National Union (KNU) confirmed that 13 regime soldiers died in 15 clashes which took place between November 4-7. 

In Kokang Region of Northern Shan State, regime forces launched offensive operations against Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) these days, as reported by The Kokang. On November 5, regime forces launched artillery shelling for more than 30 times at MNDAA’s base. Retaliated by the MNDAA, dead bodies of regime soldiers and weaponry were found afterwards. The Kokang reported that since the military kept on sending reinforcement to the frontline, more clashes are expected in the near future.

In Pale Township of Sagaing Region, local resistance group “Pale Jokers” detonated landmines at about 100 troops of military forces around 10:30am. General Pale of Pale Jokers estimated that about 30 soldiers were harmed but details were yet to be confirmed. In another part of Sagaing Region, Monywa City saw a shootout around 10am this morning. The combined force of four PDFs ambushed junta soldiers who were providing security to township irrigation office, and killed four soldiers according to Khit Thit Media. 

Armed revolution means collateral damage, and civilians, especially those in rural areas, suffer the most from it. In Sagaing Region, Katha Township, PDF and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) ambushed the military watercraft near Moe Tar Lay village around 10am this morning, which resulted in a clash. Afterwards, regime troops shelled heavy artillery into the village and burned the houses. Due to the active conflict, thousands of villagers had to flee from their homes, and since the battle continued, locals could not start the relief and rescue efforts, Khit Thit Media reported. 

Today on our social media, many netizens reminisced the Election Day last year, and reflected how things drastically changed in just one year. From UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews to embassies from the Western countries issued statements that rejected the military coup and demanded Min Aung Hlaing’s forces to end violence. One could only wonder, if such calls were effective, we would have won our revolution with massive rallies back in February. Min Aung Hlaing and his lackeys only respond to violence, the only language they know. That’s why resistance fighters are determined to fight, and many civilians are supporting the armed revolution. Of course extrajudicial killing and collateral damage are not always an answer. But after witnessing the barbaric activities of the regime for nine months, what options do we have?

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