Written Story for the Special Initiative “Living the Coup: Collective Diary of Daily Life in Myanmar” by SEA Junction and Partners.
|Title||Living with Hope for My Son|
Beep Beep Beep!!! My alarm was ringing.
I suddenly got up from bed, and I could not see a thing due to the total darkness.
Is the electricity cut off? I vaguely found my phone and turned on the flash. It was five o’clock in the morning. As I tied my hair up, I also made my bed then. I lit up the stove, put the jar on it, and cooked a rush meal while brushing my teeth since it was my office day. Then, I fried some leftover rice with a bit of oil for my son who went for the night shift and came back in order to eat.
When the sun rose and the boiled bean seller come, I would buy 100 Kyats of beans, then my son and I would have breakfast with fried rice and tea. The rice was ready to eat. When I looked at the clock, it was almost 6 a.m. People from medical staff housing also awoke. My phone seems to have lost connection. Since I’m currently using my son’s old phone, the connection used to drop and come back, so I think that’s a usual thing. At the moment, I saw Ma Chit, who lives next to my room, come back from the market carrying the basket.
Ma Chit: “Hey, Ma Nyo Sein, have you heard?”
Me: “Huh? About what? I haven’t even gone to the market because the electricity goes out.”
Ma Chit: “Then, don’t go to the market.”
Me: “Is that so?”
Ma Chit: “That’s right, no one on the phone has connection, don’t you know that?”
Me: “I thought it was normal because my phone used to lose connection and back.”
Ma Chit: “People is outraged in the market; Daw Aung San Su Kyi is being arrested in Nay Pyitaw.” “Is your son back?” No one is walking on the streets.”
Me: “Yes, he is not home yet; I am upset; I don’t know what the military will do next.”
Ma Chit: “they said that they lost the election because Daw Aung San Su Kyi steals votes and they are not satisfied with that. So, they detained her. I have heard it from the market. Well, I am going to cook some meals as I have to open the office gate.”
Me: “Ok ok, so do I”
After a moment, my son arrived back from work.
“Ring Ring!! MOM!!!!”
Me: “Oh, you are back.”
My son: “Yes.” “there’s no one on the road, I called you this morning to ask whether I should buy some fries, but I couldn’t call; there is also no connection at all.”
Me: “Son, Ma Chit said the military took state power.”
My son: “Mom, are you sure!?”, “Did they do it again?” “There was a press conference recently, and they said that they are uncertain about not seizing the state power, those mother fuckers!”
Me: “My son, I don’t understand anymore, Let’s have breakfast for now, I have to open the gate.”
My Son: “Got it Mom.”
At 8 o’clock in the morning, I arrived at the office. All the staff arrived at 9 o’clock. The whole office is discussing seizing state power. I did not understand anything.
The chief doctor arrived. All the staff gather and decide what to do. They have got different thoughts. In the end, they will see what is next. We are told to not go out unnecessarily, to avoid the soldiers and the police. That day was Monday, FEBRUARY 1st 2021 and I will never forget that day in my life.
2 FEB 2021
I went to the office as usual and came back. The main road was quite silent. The channels were being blocked.
3 FEB 2021
It was a kind of camping, taking photos. The politics are out of my range, but I am sure that I don’t want to live like the past. In the Era of Daw Aung San Su Kyi, everything is getting better. Even though I was low-level staff, it has been five years since I got my own room.
5 FEB 2021
The whole department decided to protest and close the office. The Chief administrator told Ma Nyo to keep the keys.
In the evening, when I got home, my son, who is working in a different department said “I did CDM too, Mom!”.
6 FEB 2021
People were getting crowded in the streets to protest. Seeing the active crowd made my body have goosebumps. They walked and protest. They do not look tired. I started to worry after acknowledging that I am not getting a salary because I don’t go to work. How shall we eat? What do we eat without earning money?
My Son told me not to worry, and he also said that we are going to make enough with the money he earned from the night shift. The military junta will be taken down in a short time. Every time he came back from the night shift, he joined the protest. I could not ask him to take a rest.
As days passed, some office departments reopened. Some people are already working. We were pressured by the authorities of the staff housing to choose between going back to work or leaving the staff housing. I don’t know where we will live after leaving this place. The more I thought, the more worried I became.
My son told me that we can rent a place outside somewhere and come back after Daw Aung San Su Kyi and the people’s government regain the state power.
Doomsday (10 APR 2021)
As usual, my son was taking a shower after coming back from work. Then, the chief of staff housing knocked on the door and aske, “Hey Ma Nyo! Is your son at home?” and I opened the door and let him in. I saw the soldiers, police officers, and governors along with him. I felt like I had to move out of the house. I answered, “Yes, he is here. Taking a shower” and at the same time I called my son “Guests are here,” hoping that I could lean on him. As soon as he came out, answering “Yes Mom”, two soldiers blocked him in each side of his hand and forcefully caught him with section 505(a) of the penal code. From that day, my innocent son has been arrested for more than (1) year till now. I have been living in a Monastery, trying to meet my son in prison, and then my life got lost.
Having a chance to meet with my son is a blessing in disguise compared to those who died during the revolution. I will have to keep on living for the sake of my son.
Note: Section 505(a), is the amended code by the military aftermath of the 2021 coup defeat. The new section would criminalize comments that “cause fear,” spread “false news, [or] agitates directly or indirectly a criminal offense against a Government employee.”
Section 505(a) previously made it a crime to publish or circulate any “statement, rumor or report” “with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, any officer, soldier, sailor or airman, in the Army, Navy or Air Force to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty.” Violation of the section is punishable by up to three years in prison. Many people were arrested and put in jail with this code by the military after the coup.
“Living the Coup: Collective Diary of Daily Life in Myanmar” is a special initiative of SEA Junction in collaboration with Asia Justice Rights (AJAR) to document how people are living in present-day Myanmar and their coping with daily security, economic and health challenges. We are asking for short stories in the form of written, photo essays or art illustration, in Burmese Language (to be later translated into English) or in English. For more background and other stories click here.
SEA Junction, established under the Thai non-profit organization Foundation for Southeast Asia Studies (ForSEA), aims to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its socio-cultural dimensions- from arts and lifestyles to economy and development. Conveniently located at Room 408 of the Bangkok Arts and Culture Center or BACC (across MBK, BTS National Stadium), SEA Junction facilitates public access to knowledge resources and exchanges among students, practitioners and Southeast Asia lovers. For more information see www.seajunction.org, join the Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/1693058870976440/ and follow us on twitter and Instagram @seajunction
Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
AJAR is a non-profit organization, based in Jakarta, Indonesia, whose aim is to contribute to the strengthening of human rights and the alleviation of entrenched impunity in the Asia-Pacific region. Its work focuses on countries involved in transition from a context of mass human rights violations to democracy, where it strives to build cultures based on accountability, justice and a willingness to learn from the root causes of human rights violations to help prevent the recurrence of state-sanctioned human rights violations. For more information, see https://asia-ajar.org.