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HomeNewsCoupA Family of Three: Loved by Millions, Hated by the Military

A Family of Three: Loved by Millions, Hated by the Military

Originally published on Mohinga Matters

Many businesses in the country have migrated to Facebook in recent years. We have witnessed the significant growth of e-commerce pages that sell everything from potato chips to handmade crafts during the waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. The “third wave” hit right after the coup, making a lot of people unemployed. 

“This could be the main reason that more people have started thinking of shifting their business to Facebook,” said a seasoned retailer and Civil Disobedience Movement member. Setting up a business on social media may be trivial but attracting followers is not. In order to sell something in large volume, businesses need to catch the public’s attention and find potential customers out of all followers. As such, startups try to attract the traffic as much as they can by any means, from giving freebies and discount items, to airing their individual performances live. 

But not all the newbies desperately need to do those kinds of things. On Aug. 26, 2021, every online user turned their attention to one Facebook post that was simply trying to sell locally-loved sun-dried fish and prawns. The post hits 37.8K reactions, 1.4K comments, and 25.5K shares in less than 12 hours while the page itself gains 90K new likes. In that particular post, the owner introduced herself as Aunty Win and revealed that she was the mother of the late Nyi Nyi Aung Htet Naing, and she was trying to sell sun-dried fish and prawns to earn money. She also added, “Please understand that I have to run a business in this ordeal” with the emoji of putting her palms together, which is a gesture of respect. 

“As soon as I saw her page, I thought I would buy from her, even if she was selling the same item that I was selling,” the same retailer told Mohinga Matters. And he added “I am worried that the military might turn their attention back to the family when they saw that specific post.” He was not alone in that regard. So, why did Aunty Win’s post on Facebook receive that much attention and love from the people of Myanmar while many worried for her safety at the same time? 

About seven months before Aunty Win created her Facebook page, on February 28 she received a phone call and heard a shaky voice saying, “Mom, I was shot. I could not take it anymore. I would not be able to come home.” That was Nyi Nyi Aung Htet Naing’s last moment with his mother before he died of a gunshot wound fired by the military. A widely shared picture of a young man lying with all the blood covering his body in front of a school in Hledan, Kamayut Township, was later revealed to be Nyi Nyi Aung Htet Naing who had gone out together with his twin brother Ko Ko Aung Htet Naing to join protests against the coup in the morning. He was only 23-years-old when he died. It was a tragedy for the family, and the nation mourned his death. 

“I was trying to interview one of the family members of Nyi Nyi, but all the relatives were too upset about the tragedy. If I am not wrong, Ko Ko Aung Htet Naing was more emotional than the rest of the family”, a video journalist based in Yangon recalled the day of the funeral of Nyi Nyi. And he witnessed that Ko Ko even fainted as he cried. Regardless, the military had no time for sympathy. Soldiers have constantly denied their atrocities and target the family members of the fallen heroes so as to silence them. 

As many feared, on Sept. 1, 2021  just a week after Aunty Win’s Facebook page appeared, security forces stormed into her house in an attempt to abduct her son Ko Ko Aung Htet Naing. Though he managed to escape narrowly, Aunty Win was detained as a hostage. The military called and threatened Ko Ko to turn himself in if he would like to free his mother. “The military is beyond evil. I can’t believe they don’t leave the mourning family alone. They already killed a boy. There is nothing to do with the rest. The mother is simply trying to survive by setting up a business. I was speechless when I heard the news that she was detained,” the same video journalist who covered the funeral said. 

Mohinga Matters had contact with Ko Ko Aung Htet Naing, the twin brother of the fallen hero, through social media for the interview about his family. Ko Ko humbly denied our request for the interview by saying, “Not a good time for an interview,” due to security concerns. And he mentioned that he himself is on the run. “Imagine that she lost one of her twins, her new business was destroyed by the grudge from the military within a week she started, her other son is running away as he is on the warrant list, and now she is being detained. How low is the standard of this army? We can’t accept that kind of brutality in religious, humanitarian and social aspects. Those who committed such crimes should not be in our society.” A former political prisoner, U Tun Kyi, commented about Aunty Win’s case, and he added: “The military has been conducting this inhumane act repeatedly for decades, since 1962.” 

The whole country had been protesting against the military coup, and local resistance forces as well as the official military of the National Unity Government (NUG) had been formed. On a daily basis, news about battles between the military and the People Defense Force (PDFs), along with Ethnic Resistance Organizations (EROs), circulate along with stories about massacres. The military commits atrocities and war crimes wherever they go, and questions arise about how Min Aung Hlaing will be held responsible for these crimes. Will he ever be brought to justice?

Former political prisoner U Tun Kyi told Mohinga Matters, “Those who violate basic human rights are at large and nobody is able to take action. It’s the responsibility of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the international community. It’s like they are giving a license to kill.” Nyi Nyi Aung Htet Naing posted “How_Many_Dead_Bodies_ UN_Need_To_Take_Action?” on his Facebook before he was killed by soldiers, and many are still asking the same question now. In the meantime, Myanmar stands helpless as the military continues to target this fallen hero’s remaining family members.

Mohinga Matters is a platform where aspiring writers share their thoughts, ideas and opinions freely.


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