Freedom Memoirs – Day 361

The National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), a coalition of elected MPs, ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), and other anti-regime groups, began the first “people’s congress” today. Duwa Lashi La, the interim president of the National Unity Government (NUG) said during his opening speech that federal democracy charter, first published by the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) in March, will be amended and approved and new federal constitution will be developed during this four-day conference. CRPH members, political parties, students’ unions, leaders of strike committees, activists, people on civil disobedience movement (CDM) and eight undisclosed EAOs participated in the congress, which is to be held every six months, with a key objective to map out a vision for Myanmar’s federal future.

Another highlight of today was the release of U Hanthar Myint, the central executive member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) who was previously charged and sentenced for two years in prison back in December. NLD’s spokesperson confirmed the news to Mizzima and said the 75-year-old man was freed due to his deteriorating health conditions. It’s hard to believe that Min Aung Hlaing would suddenly care about the wellbeing of a senior NLD member, but we are happy for his escape. There are also speculations that State Administration Council (SAC) has been planning to lure some of NLD people to represent the party in their delusional election in 2023 to score the slightest of the credibility points. Recently, junta’s spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun told Nikkei Asia that “We have no plan to dissolve (the NLD) till the 2023 August elections” and whether the party takes part in the general election will be “determined by the NLD”.   

On the same day it released a senior politician to look good, junta sentenced seven youths to lengthy prison terms in Yangon. A group of young people made up of five male and one female named Ko Zin Lin, Ma Win Htet Mar, Thura Aung, Win Htike Ko Ko, Min Hein Thu and Phyo Hein kyaw who were falsely accused of involvement in bank robbery in July were abducted in September along with a taxi driver Ko Lin Lin Htike and today, all of them were given 10-year verdict in prison and hard labor. A close friend of the group told Mizzima “We are proud of our comrades. Fascist military seem to think they are safe as long as they keep young people behind the bars”. Among the victims, Ma Win Htet Mar is a former chair of Lubaungthit Party (Youth) and Ko Zin Lin and Ko Phyo Hein Kyaw are prominent members of All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU).

Junta’s cruelty towards youths and civilians did not end there. Today, six dead bodies of civilians were found inside a pit latrine in Loikaw Township of Karenni (Kayah) State, according to Khit Thit Media. There were signs of torture and murder committed by regime’s forces before the corpses were dumped. It was impossible to identify the bodies due to severe bruises. In Ayadaw Township of Sagaing Region, SAC’s soldiers abducted residents of Aung Chan Thar Village on December 25 and conducted interrogation if they were related to people defense forces (PDF). Among them, the 23-year-old Mg Thaw Zin was beaten so hard that he could no longer walk and his head was also shaved as a mockery. Even when other villagers were let go yesterday, Mg Thaw Zin has been tied and brought along with the soldiers until now.

Moreover, regime’s efforts in preventing the Silent Strike accelerated today across the country. Arrests have taken place in at least two locations for supporting Silent Strike that will take place on February 1. A make-up artist/LGBTQ named Gucci Aung along with four other family members were arrested for speaking out on social media in favor of the strike and their house was sealed this afternoon in Yangon’s Sanchaung Township as an additional punishment. Fears for Gucci expressed widely among Myanmar people as Min Aung Hlaing’s troops are notorious for their toxic muscularity, extreme discrimination and treatment towards LGBTQ people, especially during detention. Also, in Pyin Oo Lwin Town of Mandalay Region, a popular Shan Traditional Restaurant called Maw Danu was forcefully closed down and sealed today, and its owners were arrested for announcing on social media that the shop would be closed on February 1.

At least some good news came through battle grounds. Chin National Defense Force (CNDF) released yesterday that three intense encounters took place in Falam Township during January 19-26 during which 24 junta’s soldiers were killed and 26 were injured while one CNDF solider was lost and four had minor wounds. The first incident was on January 19 where three mine attacks killed seven junta’s soldiers; the second was on January 23 when an ambush took out 13 of SAC’s troops and the final encounter took place on January 25 in which CNDF and Chin National Army (CNA) defended the intruding regime’s army, killing four. CNDF added that there is still presence of regime’s soldiers in Falam and Tedim townships today. Also, in Myinmu Township of Sagaing Region, a military convoy was detonated with landmines last night in which three soldiers were killed and a vehicle was destroyed, according to Mizzima.  

On the diplomatic front, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen urged Min Aung Hlaing to honor the agreement he made with ASEAN countries during a video meeting on Wednesday, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA). Hun Sen was referring to the so-called Five-Point Consensus, a plan the coup leader agreed to last year’s April to end violence in Myanmar. Cambodian political analyst Em Sovannara said “there is little chance that Min Aung Hlaing will follow through on his promises to ASEAN” and “Hun Sen wanted to restore face after he was criticized over his recent trip to Myanmar being a waste of time.” At this point, it does not matter whether it is Hun Sen or the United Nations, if someone is still promoting the dialogue table for the peaceful future of Myanmar, they are wasting everybody’s time.

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