Junta arrests members of social welfare association in Yangon – myanmar-now

A source close to the Myoma Metta Social Relief Association in Hlegu Township says it is unclear why the group’s office was raided and four people taken into junta custody 
A group of at least 10 soldiers raided the office of the Myoma Metta Social Relief Association in Hlegu Township, Yangon on Thursday night, arresting four people and confiscating two ambulances belonging to the group. 
A source close to the organisation told Myanmar Now that they did not know why it had been targeted. 

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“The junta’s troops said that the four people were taken away because they had ‘a few questions’ to ask them,” the source said. 
The individual added that the identities of the four detainees and their whereabouts were still unconfirmed. 

The Myoma Metta Social Relief Association formed as a charity in August of last year due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Their work includes organising the transport of sick patients to hospitals and clinics, distributing face masks and spraying disinfectants to kill the virus.  
Myanmar Now repeatedly called the Hlegu Township police station on Friday for further information about the arrests, but the calls went unanswered. 

The junta has repeatedly targeted those working with social outreach organisations in the crackdowns since the February 1 coup.
On March 3, video footage of police beating charity workers in Yangon’s North Okkalapa Township went viral online. 

Four uniformed volunteers with the Mon Myat Seikhtar Elderly Care Association were pulled out of an ambulance by police, then kicked, beaten, and struck with rifle butts. Shots were also fired at the ambulance during the incident. 
The four volunteers were detained at Insein Prison and released on March 24 with around 700 prisoners. 
On March 14 and 18 respectively, Wai Phyo Aung, a 19-year-old volunteer who rescued patients in Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar Township, and Thinzar Hein—who was treating injured protesters in Monywa–were shot dead by the junta’s troops. 
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said on Friday that at least 1,062 people had been killed by the military council since the coup and at least 6,364 people remain in detention. 
The junta has often dismissed these figures as exaggerated, claiming that the death toll is in the low hundreds. 
Myanmar Now is an independent news service providing free, accurate and unbiased news to the people of Myanmar in Burmese and English.
Independent media is under attack in Myanmar… help us hold the powerful to account.
Salai came of age in an era of relative freedom, but soon learned that he would have to fight to keep it
On June 9, a group of around 70 young people armed with handmade hunting rifles kept watch all night over a road on the outskirts of Thantlang, a town in Chin State about 25 miles from the capital Hakha.
One of them was Salai, a 24-year-old ethnic Chin man who had given up a comfortable job in the city to join the Chinland Defence Force (CDF), a resistance group formed in the wake of the February 1 coup.   
Together with his comrades, many of whom had also left behind easier lives to spend their days and nights in the jungle, enduring leeches and other hardships, he was waiting silently in the rain for the enemy to appear.
Finally, at around 9am, a platoon of 27 regime soldiers entered the area. Armed with assault rifles, mortars, and machine guns, they immediately started firing when a mine that had been laid by the CDF as part of their ambush plan went off.  
Despite being vastly outgunned, the semi-civilian CDF fighters succeeded in their mission: 24 of the junta troops had been killed, and only three escaped.  
This was more than the 17 dead that the CDF later announced, Salai said, but he wasn’t complaining. He was satisfied that he and his fellow resistance fighters had defeated a much better-armed enemy without losing a single member of their own group. He knew the outcome could have been much worse.
“An artillery shell dropped next to me. I wasn’t hurt because it didn’t explode. I was lucky,” he said.
From journalist to guerrilla
“Salai” is not his real name, but it’s what his Burmese friends call him. In his native language, “Salai” is an honorific added to men’s names. “Ko Salai” was easier to remember than his full Chin name, so it stuck.
Salai didn’t imagine when he was studying at a Christian theological college after graduating from high school that he would one day find himself fighting in the jungle. 
He came of age at an exciting time for the country, when it had opened up and was experiencing unprecedented freedoms after half a century of oppressive military rule. His dream in those days was to become a journalist.
“I’ve been interested in journalism since I was young. I started writing news articles in 2015, when I was still a student,” he recalled proudly.
As an aspiring journalist, Salai had numerous opportunities over the next few years. Despite its small size, Chin State saw the emergence of many online news outlets as Internet access improved. Every town and city in the state had journalists plying their trade.  
But all that changed on February 1, when the military seized power and erased a decade of progress literally overnight.
All at once, journalists became the enemy of the new order that the coup makers were trying to establish. When Salai and some of his colleagues were tipped off that charges of incitement had been laid against them for their coverage of anti-coup protests, they decided to flee.
With the help of police officers who didn’t support the military takeover, they managed to escape. And like many others disgusted by the military’s brutal crackdowns on protesters, Salai joined the armed resistance.
Secretly, he made his way to the Chin-India border, where he received military training from the Chin National Front (CNF), an armed group formed during the pro-democracy uprising in 1988. Young people from all over Chin State, as well as some from Sagaing and Magway regions, took part in the training.

At first, they had the usual problems—quarrels among trainees and difficulty adjusting to a new and demanding lifestyle. Accustomed to having a selection of their favourite foods available to them in the city, they were now sometimes forced to eat uncooked rice, fish and meat.
By July, however, more than 4,000 had completed training, according to CNF spokesperson Salai Htet Ni. Among them were a few outstanding trainees who were assigned by their superiors to lead their own companies. Salai was one of them. 
‘We have to win’
The target of Salai’s first assignment was a group of soldiers stationed next to a branch of the military-owned Innwa bank near the state parliament in Hakha. However, when he and a few of his comrades arrived there on May 2, they found the area had been cordoned off by around 100 soldiers.
Apparently, someone had tipped off the authorities about their plan. According to Salai, the group only managed to escape thanks to some police who pretended not to see them.
“It was an unforgettable day. We were almost killed. Even if they didn’t kill us, they would have arrested us. But we all got out alive, by the grace of God,” he said.
Even though they were forced to abandon their first mission, they later returned to the same place to try again. This time, they killed three soldiers.
They soon grew accustomed to carrying out such attacks. They moved around the state, travelling 20 to 40 miles a day, joining clashes on the frontline in northern townships such as Thantlang and Falam.
“We camped in the jungle, rain or shine. Sometimes, we had to sleep surrounded by cow dung,” Salai laughed.
“We slept in trees and sometimes even fell asleep in streams. We ate if the villagers fed us, and went without if they didn’t. But usually, the villagers would give us food,” he added.
It wasn’t difficult to find help, he said, because the Chin people don’t like the military regime. On one occasion, Salai said, he narrowly escaped capture when local residents hid him from soldiers looking for guerrillas in their neighbourhood. 

The recent defeat of well-equipped but dispirited international forces in Afghanistan has convinced many CDF fighters that they can win against the junta by engaging in guerrilla tactics. The high number of casualties among the regime’s forces suggests that they may be right.
One advantage that the Chin resistance forces have over their enemy is their greater familiarity with the state’s terrain. Another is that they are trusted by local people, who let them know about the regime’s troop movements.
“No one knows the Chin land better than the Chin people,” said Salai, noting that this is not the first time that his home state has had to fight off invaders. 
“My grandfather fought the Japanese during the war,” he said, recalling his own family’s history of involvement in past struggles.
While victory is far from assured, Salai insisted that his people would ultimately prevail. 
“We have to win. This is why we have to stay strong and not be discouraged. I am very proud of myself for joining the resistance. I hope my fellow youths feel the same,” he said. 
Myanmar Now is an independent news service providing free, accurate and unbiased news to the people of Myanmar in Burmese and English.
Independent media is under attack in Myanmar… help us hold the powerful to account.
It is unclear if the arrests were directly related to the attack, in which local media reported that two militia members and a PDF fighter died  
Soldiers made arrests in Kachin State on Wednesday, two days after local People’s Defence Force (PDF) fighters reportedly clashed with a junta-backed militia in Mohnyin Township. 
Those detained were two “quiet” employees of an electricity office in the town of Nam Mar, according to a witness and a local resident.  
Military vehicles arrived at the office in Shan Su neighbourhood at around 5pm and troops detained Aung San Win, 25, and Kyaw Kyaw, 26, said a man who saw the arrests.
“They were playing caneball in front of the electricity office when they were arrested,” he said. “I don’t know why they were arrested.” 
The two young men were from Kan Kone Gyi village and the town of Maw Lu in Sagaing Region. They had been staying in Nam Mar’s Nyaung Kone neighbourhood while working at the electricity office. 
The man who witnessed their arrests said he had heard a rumour they were being held at the compound of the nearby 386th Artillery Battalion but had been unable to confirm this. 
Another resident described the young men as kind and hospitable. “They never even take tips when we need their help with electrical matters,” the resident said. “They were such quiet kids.”
The junta has not publicised the mens’ arrests. 
In the state capital of Myitkyina, another seven youths were arrested on Wednesday during stop and search operations on public roads, locals said.
The arrests came two days after local media reported a clash in Nam Mar’s Chaung Thar ward. A group of PDF fighters on three motorbikes arrived at the house of Tun Tun, a member of a local junta-backed militia, according to the Kachin News Group. 
Tun Tun was drinking with other militia members at the time of the attack – a shootout ensued and Tun Tun was killed along with a militia member named Chit Ko Ko and a PDF fighter, the outlet said, quoting a local resident. 
No local PDF chapter has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
On June 1, a former administrator from Nam Mar named Aye Min who was believed to be aligned with the junta was assassinated by guerilla forces. The junta subsequently arrested Myint Wai, from Shan Su neighbourhood on suspicion of involvement in the killing. 
In the days after the killing, Myo Yarzar, the administrator of the nearby Myo Ma Yan Aung neighbourhood, resigned from his post.  
Myanmar Now is an independent news service providing free, accurate and unbiased news to the people of Myanmar in Burmese and English.
Independent media is under attack in Myanmar… help us hold the powerful to account.
Two guerilla groups have claimed responsibility for Thursday’s killings and said no civilians were harmed 
Two soldiers including a major were killed in the guerilla bomb attack against a military vehicle in Yangon’s Sanchaung Township on Thursday, it has emerged. 
Several junta troops were riding in a truck near the intersection of Bargaryar and Baho roads at around 4pm when a group of men tossed an explosive inside.
A major who was sitting in the front passenger seat was killed in a shootout following the explosion, several local media outlets reported. 
The other soldier, a private, was in the back of the truck when he died. Further details about the dead soldiers were not immediately available. 
The attack took place next to a busy market, but two guerilla groups who claimed responsibility said no civilians were harmed, the BBC’s Burmese service reported.  
The groups, who call themselves Revolution Force and Generation Freedom Army, codenamed the attack Tigre Ogre, the outlet reported. 
A man who witnessed the killings told Myanmar Now that he heard about 20 rounds of gunfire and then an explosion while driving in the area. As he was driving away, he saw four injured soldiers inside the vehicle. 
“One was in the front seat covered with blood with the car door open,” he said. “There were three others in the back of the vehicle, also with blood on them. The one in the driver’s seat drove away quickly.” 
About two hours later, another explosion was reported near the intersection of Baho road and Zeyawaddy road, a few hundred meters north of the site of the attack. The blast was reportedly a controlled explosion by soldiers after they found another bomb in the area.
The military has deployed soldiers throughout Sanchaung and in the neighbouring areas, according to residents. They ordered shopkeepers at the nearby Gwa market to shut their businesses and carried out searches on passersby.
They also searched a number of houses in the area throughout the evening.
On Friday, several roads in Sanchaung remained blocked and junta administrators announced via loudspeakers that the road at the scene of the attack would be restricted to one way traffic, a Sanchaung resident told Myanmar Now. 
The local administrators also blocked street vendors from operating on Baho road and ordered people to take down parasols in the area, said another local resident. 
Around 25 soldiers and police blocked Zeyawaddy road with about five trucks for several hours on Friday afternoon until around 6pm and barred people from leaving their apartments, a resident there said. 
He added that about five soldiers came to his apartment and asked for household registration documents and the number of residents living there. He later saw the same troops break a stairwell door to enter another apartment building nearby. 
“They did searches at nearly every home in the street,” he said. “They seemed like they were looking for something or someone but I don’t know what it was and they didn’t say either.”
No one was arrested and the road was reopened after 6pm, he said, though a few soldiers stayed behind afterwards. 
“What we have been feeling at this time is fear,” he added. “We are living in fear of what they might do to us. We all want to be free of that fear as soon as possible.”
Myanmar Now is an independent news service providing free, accurate and unbiased news to the people of Myanmar in Burmese and English.
Independent media is under attack in Myanmar… help us hold the powerful to account.
Myanmar Now is an independent news service providing free, accurate and unbiased news to the people of Myanmar in Burmese and English.
Independent media is under attack in Myanmar… help us hold the powerful to account.
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