Freedom Memoirs – Day 333

The 11th month under the military government in Myanmar has reportedly been one of the deadliest since the February 1st coup. According to an independent report by RFA Burmese today, December saw the most mass killings by the regime soldiers. At least 61 civilians have been massacred this month in Karenni (Kayah) State, Sagaing and Magway regions, and more than 40,000 have been displaced due to fighting on both sides. On top of this, a total of 50 political figures, activists, artists, monks, celebrities and normal civilians have been sentenced so far this month just a day before we say goodbye to this god-awful year.
 
Today, Magway Region Chief Minister Dr. Aung Moe Nyo along with three other members of Magway Region government ministers were convicted with lengthy prison sentences for corruption. Special courts inside Yangon’s Insein Prison and Mandalay’s Obo Prison also sentenced members of the Union Election Commission under the National League for Democracy (NLD) government to two to five years in prison. Eight celebrities, including influential actor and actress couple Pyay Ti Oo and Eaindra Kyaw Zin, actors Lu Min and Ye Tite and social influencer Win Min Than, were all sentenced to three years imprisonment with hard labor. A political analyst, Than Soe Naing, who spoke to RFA Burmese said that the regime handing out these simultaneous sentencing to political detainees in various prisons at the same time is its attempt to send a message that anyone who opposed them would not be spared and would face harsh sentencing.
 
While the regime is using a corrupted justice system to ruin people’s lives, many clashes between regime forces and local defense forces and atrocities by regime soldiers continued in several places, wreaking havoc and ruining the country further. December 30 began with reports of more houses being burned down in Chin State’s Thantlang. It’s been four months that this small town has suffered through hell at the hands of the regime soldiers. Today, at least 55 houses were reported to have been burned, including the Assembly of God Church, according to sources. The fire was reportedly seen from Hakha which was 23 miles away. In neighboring Magway Region’s Yesagyo Township and Sagaing Region’s Myaung and Kaylay townships, due to increasing presence of regime soldiers and explosions in the areas, hundreds of residents had abandoned their homes and were on the run, DVB News reported today.
 
The clashes between the regime forces and the joint force of Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and People’s Defense Force (PDF) today’s morning near Karen State’s Kawkareik town also caused over 2,000 residents to flee, according to DVB News. The clashes erupted about 2-mile away from Kawkareik Town at 5am after the regime deployed 100 more soldiers in the area. In Lay Kay Kaw Town in Myawaddy Township of Karen State, fresh clashes occurred this morning as well, Khit Thit Media reported. Both clashes saw casualties on the regime’s side. In the aftermath of the Lay Kay Kaw clash, about seven regime soldiers with weapons were captured by the defense forces, and Kawkareik clashes saw three casualties on the regime side and five injuries.
 
Regarding these recent clashes in Lay Kay Kaw town, the state media newspapers reported on December 29 that the regime forces only used “limited force” in these clashes which began on December 15. The regime tried so hard to claim it was “purely defensive” while they had resorted to airstrikes on December 23. Karen National Union (KNU)’s spokesperson, Pahoh Saw Taw Nee responded to these claims by saying that the regime’s claims are “full of lies” and denied against allegations by the regime that the KNU was harboring terrorists in Lay Kay Kaw. The regime said they arrested 21 people on December 14 raid who were members of the National Unity Government (NUG) and public servants who had joined the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). According to KNU, they only accepted the guests on the basis of human rights and stressed “people wouldn’t have to seek refuge in Lay Kay Kaw if the military didn’t keep killing and torturing people.”
 
KNU’s Chairman General Saw Mutu Say Poe also urged all Karen people to continue working for the betterment of Karen people and to fight back against injustice from all walks of life in a message sent for the 2761 Karen National New Year, which falls on January 2, 2022. In his statement, he highlighted peaceful political dialogue as the best solution to the political crisis but at the same time, urged everyone to resist in any forms and means against a political system which has been robbed and violations of human rights. With just a day left of this year, we honestly hope for more peace and stability for many residents who have been tragically displaced by the clashes and raids.
 
For most of us, the light at the end of the tunnel has started to fade and it’s difficult to stay hopeful with news of massacres and harsh sentencing occurring left and right. We know these are just words, but hope is the only thing that we can hold on right now against them, and they may be able to take everything from all of us, but they can’t take our mind or hope away. So, let’s all try to keep our fires inside burning.

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