Freedom Memoirs – Day 363

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the association of U Ko Ni, the legal advisor to the State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) as well as an expert on constitution law. U Ko Ni was shot and killed at the Yangon International Airport on this day five years ago. The image of him holding his grandson while the gunman held the pistol on his head remains vividly on everyone’s minds. A taxi driver named Ko Nay Win was also killed as he chased the gunman with barehand. U Ko Ni consistently lobbied to abolish the military-drafted 2008 Constitution and develop a new one while he was also the mastermind behind creating the role of state counsellor as Daw Aun San Suu Kyi was barred from becoming the president by the clause 59(f) in constitution. The culprits of his murder included a professional hitman and three former military officers, two of whom were charged and sentenced in prison, but one has evaded capture to this day. 

It was the worst kept secret that Min Aung Hlaing’s military had a hand in the killing of U Ko Ni; however, then court decided the defendants were acting on their own and not motivated by the institution. Military supporters and so-called extreme nationalists openly celebrated the murder and even hailed the murderers as heroes while the government in power (NLD) itself and the public were left stunned and helpless. Behind closed doors, just after the murder, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that Ko Ni’s being “taken away from us” was a terrible blow and a warning to those left behind. Fast forward five years, the 2008 Constitution is no longer legitimate, and we are set for drafting a new one under the elected National Unity Government (NUG). It has not come easily, and there is still a long road ahead but at least we are walking the walk now. Although known as a peace-lover, we hope U Ko Ni would be proud looking down on us.

Now onto the reality. Back and forth charges between regime’s forces and people defense forces (PDF) took place across the country yesterday and today. This evening around 5pm, junta’s soldiers were attacked with a bomb near Fortune Plaza in Thaketa Township and it immediately led to exchange of gunshots. Khit Thit Media reported that two soldiers were killed during the incident and soon, the whole township was blocked for thorough inspection. A similar attack at a ward administration office in Aungmyaytharzan Township of Mandalay Region killed one solider and injured another today. Moreover, a grenade was thrown inside a police guard station in Kyaikhto Town of Mon State and there were casualties as well. And there was an explosion at the security-tightened staff housing of Insein Prison last night. A military convoy speeding up on the Strand Road towards Insein for investigation was witnessed by residents of Yangon. 

In Mandalay, two restaurants that had been selling military-owned Myanmar beer were blasted with bombs last night. Smart 88 and Dragon Star had once been warned to stop distributing junta’s products and failed to comply, hence three joint PDF called KDF, Justice Mandalay PDF and Phoenix (Yesagyo) and Mandalay PDF coordinated an attack on them, according to Mizzima. Three other restaurants and a karaoke place were also met with bomb attacks on January 27 for the same crime in Mandalay. Also in Mandalay, a civilian called Ko Nyein Chan Win was shot and killed by junta’s soldiers for refusing to stop his motorbike the night before yesterday. The victim, however, turned out to be the member of United Solidarity Development Party (USDP), the military’s proxy party, and hence failed to collect any sympathy from the public. 

Chindwin Attack Force released a statement yesterday that it had attacked State Administration Council (SAC)’s station with artillery shelling in Shwe Taung Oo Hill of Monywa Township in Sagaing Region around 11pm on January 27. Fifteen shots were fired from three artilleries and at least two tents were destroyed, causing mayhem inside the military camp and fatalities are yet to be disclosed. The station accommodated about 100 troops and was notorious for disturbing and distorting innocent civilians/travelers in the region. From Sagaing Region, Aung San Forces also shared the news that it had coordinated an attack with local PDF towards regime’s forces in Zeephyukone Village of Pale Township last night. The clash lasted about 30 minutes in which the resistance forces had reportedly launched offensives both on ground and air which may have resulted in multiple deaths although not verified yet.  

However, our armed resistance has not been without grief. Early this morning around 1am, a safe house inside Shwe Pone Nyat Housing in Kamaryut Township of Yangon was raided by regime’s soldiers. At least ten gunshots were heard by neighbors during which one youth was killed and four others were abducted, according to Khit Thit Media. The dead victim and detainees have not been identified yet. Also in Mandalay, a PDF member called Jack injured himself while testing explosives, effectively blowing his cover yesterday. He was sent to hospital immediately and his phone was seized by regime’s troops. Fellow resistance fighters were informed not to pick up the phone and move locations as they could be tracked through Jack’s contacts. 

And this morning around 9am, junta’s forces launched airstrikes from two fighter jets in Pekhon Township of Shan State, injuring two PDF members. The air attack was apparently a retaliation for Pekhon- PDF’s ambush on their outpost in the early morning, according to Ayeyarwaddy Times. In Chin State, a military convoy consisting of 83 vehicles including two tanks have arrived on Mindat-Matupi Road and reportedly shelling artillery randomly for no reason for almost a week now. Residents speculate that the reason of indiscriminate shootings are to show off their weaponry. CDF-Mindat’s spokesperson Ko Yaw Man told Khit Thit Media that it would start offensive battles towards regime’s army along with local resistance forces in near future and soon there will be battles to seize cities.    

Meanwhile, Min Aung Hlaing’s regime has been reportedly planning to celebrate Chin National Day across all the townships in Chin State on coming February 20. It was discussed during SAC’s Chin Regional Government Meeting on January 27 that they would organize celebrations on state level, appoint committee members, invite VIPs and provide all the necessary funding. Min Aung Hlaing’s military has strategically ruined Chin State, from cutting food supplies to burning Thantlang Town to ashes. Despite all that, how they have no shame to even talk about celebrating Chin National Day is beyond our logic. In other news, there is no more military doctor assigned in junta’s military stations due to the higher demand in frontlines. Instead, midwives are given the task to see patients and everyone who comes to clinic are provided with paracetamol and burmeton regardless of their age or disease. Moreover, soldiers’ wives are also assigned for night guarding duty as there is shortage of manpower in the station.   

On international front, China’s UN ambassador said yesterday that the UN Security Council’s primary goal in strife-torn Myanmar should be to avoid more violence and a civil war, according to AP news. Zhang Jun said that he hoped their efforts and others “can really continue to calm the situation.” It was reported previously that China has requested ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) to avoid warfare during Chinese New Year as well. It has been two days short of the anniversary of the coup. About 1,500 people have died. Over 10,000 remain under detention. Min Aung Hlaing will not suddenly hand over power, PDF will not give up the armed resistance until the collective federal goal is achieved. If China is suggesting peace now, Winnie the Pooh clearly has not been paying attention.

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