Freedom Memoirs – Day 359

Reporting from Myanmar, the country which is transforming with momentum into a dystopian state with draconian laws after merely a year of military coup. If we recall, Min Aung Hlaing’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications attempted to pass a drafted bill of new cybersecurity law around late February and early March of 2021. The draft bill aims to strengthen the state’s control over the internet such as social networks and online transactions. This month, the regime did a revised version of the draft bill, shared with respective stakeholders including banks and telecom companies, and requested feedback by January 28. After stalling for nearly a year, the regime is set on passing this draconian law. 

On a related note, the use of virtual private networks (VPN) is also penalised. After the coup, regime has banned the use of social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp, so internet users have no choice but to use VPNs to access to these social networks to stay in the loop. These days, netizens report that phones are searched on the streets by regime soldiers, and if VPN apps were found people would be arrested or fined. If the regime were to arrest and fine VPN users, it basically needed to arrest all 28.7 million Facebook users.

Random raids and arbitrary arrests still take place in many parts of the country. In Dawei City of Tanintharyi Region, a charity clinic was raided by regime soldiers around 8.30pm last night. Soldiers arrested seven youths who were volunteering at the clinic, and ransacked medical supplies in addition to an ambulance. A source told Mizzima News that the exact reason for the raid and arrest was unknown, but he heard that the detained youths were accused of associating with striking CDM teachers. Currently, whereabout of arrested young people is unknown.

News came from Karenni State that clashes broke out yesterday entirely in Demoso Township, and the military regime used aerial attacks according to Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF)’s statement. Battles took place in Demoso Township San Pya 6 and 5 miles areas since 6.30am yesterday. The allied forces of Karenni Army (KA), KNDF and people’s defense force (PDF) defended the offensive attacks from the regime’s troops. Severely defeated on ground, the regime used airstrikes around 5pm for three times. The details of casualty is yet to be disclosed, but one KNDF soldier was injured due to the aerial attacks. In its statement, KNDF also said that the regime soldiers forced civilians to dress in military attires, and used them as human shields.

Sweden Embassy in Yangon released a statement which condemned the death sentence on pro-democracy activist Ko Jimmy and former NLD MP Phyo Zeyar Thaw. The statement, issued today, read that Sweden and the EU works towards the global abolition of death penalty, and called for respect for the right to life. It also demanded the release of all political prisoners. A total of 642 political dissents have been sentenced since the coup, and 84 out of them received death sentence according to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

As we reported on Sunday, Khit Thit Media has been exposing insights from the military circle. We don’t know how they do it but today, they reported another movement of the military. In the report, a ship from Russia named Captain Yakubovich (AZSCO) arrived in Thilawa Port around 4pm yesterday, dropping heavy weaponry, explosives and artillery shells, then left the port immediately. A source close to the military circle in Yangon told Khit Thit that the military collected the delivery during the curfew hours. 

It’s been almost a year since Min Aung Hlaing staged a coup. Pro-democracy people plan for another day of Silent Strike on February 1, with closures of shops and businesses. As usual, regime soldiers attempt to disrupt the symbolic strike by forcing shops to open and people to operate as a normal day. On the other hand, military supporters have been planning a rally for the first anniversary of military coup on February 1. According to Myanmar Sentiment, invitations have been distributed among the military supporters. The evil plan is to gather in front of Thamada cinema and march to Sule, and it will be led by ultranationalist activists Michael Kyaw Myint, Daw Moe Moe Khine and another man named U Aung San Oo. This only reminded us of a small group of “military supporters” coming out to the streets on the last Silent Strike in December, that eventually failed to match the much greater population who chose to remain silent pledging loyalty towards the National Unity Government (NUG).

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