An alliance of local defence forces launched a morning assault on a village in Sagaing Region’s Tamu Township on Wednesday where junta troops and members of the Myanmar army-backed Pyu Saw Htee militia had stationed themselves.
The resistance coalition ambushed Pan Thar village, under two miles from Myanmar’s border with India, to avenge a member of the Tamu People’s Defence Force (PDF) killed last year by the same troops and militia members, an officer in the PDF’s Battalion 3 explained.
In tribute, the attack was called “Operation Sun Ye,” a reference to the fallen guerrilla fighter.
“We are a joint force and they’re also a joint force of the military and Pyu Saw Htee. They were in a defensive position and we were on the offensive,” the officer said.
Using heavy artillery and guns, the junta forces returned fire against the guerrilla fighters from within bunkers and civilian houses that they had occupied in Pan Thar.
The Tamu PDF reported that around 30 enemy troops were killed in the nearly seven-hour battle and five resistance fighters were injured.
Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify the number of casualties.
“The military suffered a great deal of losses, and we withdrew to tend to the injuries of our men,” the Tamu PDF officer said, adding that the junta forces had retreated to Man Maw village, west of Pan Thar.
That evening, soldiers came back in three ambulances to retrieve dead and injured troops from the village, according to locals.
Tension remained high in Tamu at the time of reporting, with 10 trucks of Myanmar army reinforcements from Kalay arriving in the area, the PDF officer said. The soldiers reportedly stopped in the village of Khan Pat, on the border between the two townships, and confiscated civilian vehicles in order to continue their journey into Tamu.
Junta forces have become frequent targets of resistance groups in Tamu attempting to drive out the coup regime’s troops.
In January, three police and two military officers were killed in a guerrilla attack just outside the township’s border with Kalay.
True to form, the prison authorities came down hard when Ko Agga and four others banded together to request that their rights be respected.
“They accused us of protesting, beat us, and sent us to solitary confinement,” he said.
It is not unusual for prisoners to die due to the extremely poor conditions inside Obo Prison, or as a result of their brutal treatment at the hands of prison authorities.
“Some have lost their lives because they were denied medical treatment. In some cases, their families are not even informed of their death before they are buried,” said one lawyer who has represented inmates of the prison.
Another lawyer described a client who became so malnourished that he didn’t have the strength to appear in court.
“My client was starved while he was locked up in solitary confinement. For a long time, he couldn’t even attend his own court hearings. After he was finally released, I could see that he had lost a lot of weight and was in very poor health,” he said.
Sometimes the violence was more direct, and even more lethal.
In June, at least two inmates of the prison were beaten to death with metal batons during a crackdown that also left at least 13 others injured, according to both lawyers. And a prisoner who was recently released reported a similar incident on August 8—the anniversary of the start of Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement—that resulted in at least one death.
Ready to return to the revolution
Ko Agga and his three comrades were released in late October, a few days before completing their sentences of one year and nine months for incitement. During his time behind bars, he experienced hellish conditions and inhuman treatment, both as a victim and as a witness.
“Detainees are starved, bound, and beaten during interrogation. Some youths and LGBT people are sexually assaulted. Some come out of the interrogation centre blind in one eye or unable to use one of their legs. Most inmates need therapy to heal their mental trauma,” he said.
Now staying in a safe location, Ko Agga is able to reflect on his ordeal and begin his own process of healing.
“I used to be very quick-tempered. But I was close to insanity when I came out of prison—quiet and stupefied. I couldn’t even picture my mother’ face when I was in prison,” he said.
But far from breaking his spirit, his time inside Obo Prison only strengthened his resolve to defeat the enemy of his generation—the regime that overthrew the country’s elected government on February 1, 2021.
“I was traumatised, but I pulled myself together for the sake of the revolution,” he said. “I’m not afraid to go back to prison. We have lost our rights, and must fight to win them back for future generations.”