Freedom Memoirs – Day 299

Yesterday, we reported the story of security guards arresting a group of young protesters at Myanmar Plaza, and many social media users in Myanmar criticized the actions of those guards. The campaign to boycott Myanmar Plaza grows massively within a short period of time. The public pledged not to go shopping in Myanmar Plaza. Delivery companies posted on Facebook that they will not accept delivery orders to Myanmar Plaza, and taxi drivers likewise will not accept passengers going to the mall. Global brands- from LG, Sony, Adidas, to the Manhattan Fish Market, Pizzamaru, KFC, all participated in the boycott campaign by closing their stores. As of this morning, photos of Myanmar Plaza emerged, and the place that used to be overcrowded with visitors has completely turned into a silent shopping mall with almost no one. This campaign to boycott Myanmar Plaza proves that the power is in the hands of citizens, and if we are persistent in such boycott campaigns against the military and anyone that is helping the junta, we can definitely win in our fight for democracy. 

Despite the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advocating the Myanmar junta to stop the Rohingya oppression activities, the State Administration Council (SAC) further imposed the law regarding the movement of Rohingya minorities. Under the new law, Rohingya people will be required to bring Form 4 in order to travel from one city to another. Failure to complying with the law will result in being charged with penal code 188. Rohingya activist Ro Nay San Lwin responded to the SAC’s statement by saying that Rohingya have been oppressed from traveling independently for almost three decades since 1992. Under such tightened scrutiny, Rohingya people have to bribe a huge amount of money to the authorities in order to receive travel permits, and this permit is only valid for short period travels. Rohingya were also denied from traveling to big city like Sittwe for medical checkup since 2012. Since Min Aung Hlaing, the main person responsible for Rohingya genocide, is currently illegitimately governing a democratic country like Myanmar, the safety of Rohingya populations is in peril. 

Life under the military junta is very challenging. Under the authoritarian regime, personal freedom is severely limited and basic human rights are also denied. In Myanmar, a person bank’s account can also be freeze if the junta suspects the account owner of supporting People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) and Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). MIB New reported today that the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) has urged local banks to monitor a list of phone numbers that are under suspicion of supporting CDM and PDF. If bank accounts are registered with these phone numbers, these accounts are ordered to be temporarily suspended, and local banks are required to provide CBM with the owner’s personal information, such as name, father’s name, national identity card number, address, and bank statements. 

This afternoon, the Myanmar junta held a press conference, and the spokesperson Zaw Min Tun made ridiculous statements as usual. Previous days, we saw disownment announcements in newspapers since parents of our resistance fighters try to protect themselves from being taken as hostages. According to him, these statements in the state owned newspapers are not considered official. As usual, netizens jokingly remarked that if the statements in newspapers are not legitimate, that would imply their papers as unlawful too. During the conference, he further emphasized that middle school students will have to sit for final exams in March, and high school students in April. Yet, most civilians are reluctant to send their children to public schools as Myanmar healthcare system is declining at its worst, and Covid-19 cases are still spreading. We must not forget that the third wave of Covid which drastically hit Myanmar community began when Min Aung Hlaing forcibly opened basic education schools. 

The junta forces are still taking the family members as hostages if they cannot find the person they want to arrest. In Chanmyatharsi Township in Mandalay, junta soldiers arrested the sister and mother of a 20-year-old Ko Hein Htet on the morning of November 25 according to Myanmar Now. Although his sister is released in the evening, his mother is still detained. A local from the area spoke to Myanmar Now that the soldiers raided the house and threatened the family members to tell them the whereabouts of their son. They also looted some personal belongings from the house. Afterwards, they also seized the house under suspicion of PDF’s property. Locals said that the engineering student is not a PDF member, and he was traveling while they came to arrest him. Mandalay PDF group leader Natkat also reaffirmed that Ko Hein Htet is not affiliated with PDF, and condemned the SAC’s action of kidnapping the mother as they cannot find her son. 

While the majority of Myanmar populations are struggling economically, generals from SACs and former generals are prospering at the expense of civilian’s poverty. According to the sources from businessmen, the son in law of former general Hla Htay Win made a chunk of profit from the beach project in Dala Township. Khit Thit Media reported that Hla Htay Win’s daughter applied for the project under Mega Super Power Company, and the current junta-appointed Yangon Prime Minister Hla Soe sold the land plots on September 28for the price of 1.1 billion MMK. After buying the lands, they are sold back at the price of over 10 billion MMK. A businessman spoke to Khit Thit Media that General Hla Htay Win’s son in law is the former military officer Thant Zin Hein who is the owner of Nay Gabar Construction. The family also owns the majority of shares of Green City project at Zero Mile in Yangon, and YP petrol, for which they also get the lands price at a bargaining price. The state power grants the generals to monopolies the businesses and makes themselves richer and richer. That’s why we need to bring our country back from the hands of these thieves.

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