Aung Ko Ko

ယခုဆောင်းပါးကို မြန်မာဘာသာဖြင့် ဖတ်ရှုရန် ဤနေရာတွင် နှိပ်ပါ

Cite as: 
The Memoir of Aung Ko Ko. (2022). Independent Journal of Burmese Scholarship, 1.

My name is Private Aung Ko Ko, I am 29 years old and I escaped the Meiktila Air Force Training Base in September 2021 to stand with the people. Before joining the air force in July 2018 I was a driver, just taking people from place to place for cash. I joined because my whole family is in the military; we are totally tied to it. My older brother is a soldier and when I was young I always respected and admired him for his neat and tidy uniform. Some of my friends also joined the army before me, and I was jealous of them … I remember in the past that people respected soldiers, they always welcomed them warmly. To be honest, while my family also pressured me to be a soldier, I was receptive. I envied soldiers growing up and even later working as a driver and earning money, I still envied their status.

While many of my relatives are in the military, none are in the air force, so I thought I would sign up for that. It was the right choice because when I first joined, the air force was very comfortable compared with the army. We didn’t even have to line up or anything. I was happy and we never went to the front line, we enjoyed our comradeship in the barracks. I mean there were still disappointments, like not getting enough food sometimes or being cut off here and there, and there was discrimination, definitely no sense of mutual respect.

But it was better before the coup.

On the 1st of February 2021 we were ordered to wake up at 3:30AM and gather at the local football field. We were issued firearms and told to stand by. We had no idea what was going on. We only found out later that there had been a coup. Later in February I heard about what the military was doing to peaceful protesters. Firing weapons, arresting, bullying, killing. I felt disgusted. I wanted to leave immediately, but my mother was sick and begged me not to; I was stuck.

My family is brainwashed.

I know this, and I can say this, because I am a bit more knowledgeable than them. I have wider social connections than they have. I had a civilian life. My sister tells me not to talk about politics and my older brother is still in the army. In the end, because of wrestling with these issues, I could only leave the air force in September, eight months after I first decided to.

When I first decided to flee the Meiktila base, I aimed to escape with some weapons. In the end I encountered some problems, so I had to leave stuff like my bike and laptop at the barracks. I escaped with nothing and even needed to borrow clothes. There were a lot of checks and a lot of pressure at that time. Leaving in September was way riskier than leaving earlier, but I had to risk it.

I reached Yangon and spent a whole week hiding there. I only had about seven lakhs in cash. I was followed by agents of the State Administration Council intelligence service at one point in South Dagon; they had identified me, but luckily I managed to run and get to downtown where I hid in a dormitory. They may have found me through my phone. I was using a MyTel SIM card and I kept forgetting to use WiFi instead.

I left the air force without supporting any particular political party. In my opinion, there is only justice and injustice. Because of the army’s wickedness and injustice, I simply could not participate. I had to leave. Another of my friends in the air force also left, and I estimate about two thirds of my friends have the same opinions as me, and some are even trying to leave. Some were detained. Some are on the inside but still help me by feeding me some information.

Even the officers in the air force are tired. Many other people in the army are aware of the injustice of the coup and the military’s activities yet remain silent. We soldiers know even more than the public in some ways, about what goes on. But it is like these silent soldiers are just incapable of any action at all.

I managed to escape Yangon and I am now in a liberated area. I must help finish this revolution because I do not want young people to be like me. When the revolution is finished, I will do charity work. You know, Myanmar has more resources than other countries, but our education system is inferior to theirs. Our seniors put everything they can get into their pockets. Over in Thailand, soy milk is provided for children at school so they can all grow well. I want my country to provide the same. I still have contacts in the air force and I am always trying to get information from them and convince them to join us in liberated areas. I will fight back as much as I can to defeat this terrible system.