Freedom Memoirs – Day 329

While everyone in the cities is recovering from the festivities of Christmas, many civilians in conflict areas continued to live in fear of the terror campaign of the junta forces. Today, we reported on the death of second journalist killed under Min Aung Hlaing-led era in Myanmar—the first journalist to have died in the line of reporting in conflict region. Residents of Sagaing Region also continued to live in fear of having their houses being burned down while residents of Karen State’s Lay Kay Kaw Township continued to shoulder the impacts of the clashes between the junta and opposition forces for over 10 days now.

In the wake of the Moso village massacre in Karenni (Kayah) State, Save the Children issued a statement last night, condemning the attack by junta forces in Hpruso town in which at least 38 people were killed. At the same time, the organization brought light to two of its staff who went missing after conducting humanitarian relief work in a nearby community. The statement confirmed that their private vehicle was found to have been torched and destroyed. Following the statement from Save the Children, 59 civil societies also issued a joint statement today, urging the UN Security Council, the UN General Secretary and the international community to take actions against the Min Aung Hlaing-led military regimet by imposing arms embargo, letting the International Criminal Court handle Myanmar issue and continuing to put a stop on money flowing into the military-associated businesses. 

Speaking of military-associated businesses, Justice For Myanmar (JFM) has published details of KT Group and Ky-Tha Group business links to the military council on December 25, which includes arm sales and technical support for the military such as coastal surveillance radar and airplanes procurement. The New York Times also ran an investigative feature on December 24 that exposed a vast world of how the tight-knit family conglomerate has been doing business with the military strategically hidden from the public. If you don’t know who they are, this is the conglomerate that restored the famous Pegu Club three years ago. The KT Group was reportedly awarded a 50-year lease for the land of Pegu Club under a build-operate-transfer deal with the military with payments reportedly going to an off-budget account at the Ministry of Defence. 

According to the reports by both JFM and NY Times, KT Group also made financial donations to the military in 2017 which supported the clearance operation against the Rohingya. Apparently, the head of KT Group has a close relationship with Min Aung Hlaing as well. They reportedly have a combined network of 28 subsidiaries and associates businesses in Myanmar and Singapore. Honestly, big conglomerates which are hidden from the public are more deadly than anything else because nobody was aware of how they were functioning before the coup, and probably went into business with them. We hope business leaders will cancel their business dealings with the military. No matter how much you think your work is good and benefiting the public, as long as the revenue and investment money are going into the pockets of the military mechanism and the military men, you have blood on your hands as well. 

With a vile determination to terrorize the civilians during the last few days of the year, another village in Sagaing Region’s Taze Township was subjected to arson attacks this morning. A video of houses burning were reported by major news outlet on social media, saying about 90 houses were burned down. But it turned out to be fake news as the video was from an incident in Ayadaw Township on December 13. The actual news was that about 60 junta soldiers and police in both uniform and plain clothes patrolled the North Inn village in Taze Township this morning before burning down at least five houses.

A Christmas clash at Maewakhe village on the south of Myawaddy town in Karen State yesterday reportedly killed four People’s Defense Force members and a journalist. Ko A Sai K also known as Soe Win Aung, a journalist from Federal News Journal was reporting news of clashes at the village in Karen National Union-controlled area when he was caught in the line of fire. Also, the journalist/poet was reported to have died after being hit with an explosion from the junta troops firing artillery in the village. The death of Ko A Sai K marked the second journalist who was killed in the aftermath of Min Aung Hlaing’s military coup, and the first journalist to have died while reporting on the civil wars. His funeral was held today. An editor of Delta News Agency Ko Soe Ya also got injured during the clash after being hit with a stray shrapnel.

More airstrikes by junta forces were reported this afternoon in the surrounding of Taw Naw waterfall in Lay Kay Kaw Township after a morning on-ground clash between the junta forces, including Border Guard Force, and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) troops on Kawkareik-Myawaddy Road. According to KNLA, at least 10 junta soldiers were killed during the morning clash. The junta forces attacked the area airborne for about 35 minutes between 12:30pm and 1:15pm according to a resident who spoke to Burma Associated Press. It’s been over 10 consecutive days that Lay Kay Kaw Township and nearby areas have been subjected to junta troops’ airstrikes. 

We understand it is hard to level the playing field in the time of war, and we do not expect the junta forces to be fair. But the airstrikes are plain evil moves from the junta side as these airstrikes harmed the civilians more than anyone else. Many protesters across the country as well as the Myanmar diaspora in Japan came out today to call on the international community to impose a “No Fly Zone” in ethnic regions as well as Sagaing and Magway regions in which residents have been bearing the brunt of all unnecessary airstrikes. 

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