Moe Nyo

ယခုဆောင်းပါးကို မြန်မာဘာသာဖြင့် ဖတ်ရှုရန် ဤနေရာတွင် နှိပ်ပါ

Cite as: 
The Memoir of Moe Nyo. (2022). Independent Journal of Burmese Scholarship, 1. https://ijbs.online/?page_id=3440

I was ranked second warrant officer when I left the army on 16 November 2021. I’m 46 years old. Although I joined up and definitely lived a military life, I’m actually a rocker. I grew up in the rock age. Zaw Win Htut, Lay Phyu and Harry Lynn are my heroes. I also love Axl Rose from Guns ‘n’ Roses.

When I think about it, I didn’t join the army for any real reason. My father was in the air force, so it was easy. My mother was also a military nurse. When she died my dad said I should join soon, so I wouldn’t get depressed. He told me he wanted me to stay grounded.

That was around 1996 and there weren’t many jobs around. I was kind of interested in the London Cigarette Factory, though. My friends started working there making cigarettes and cigars. It was considered one of the top factories to work for, with nice uniforms and good salaries. If I had not listened to my father’s advice, I guess I would have joined that factory and lived a different life.

Before I left the army, I had a comfortable salary of 240,000 Myanmar Kyat per month. I was an office manager with a lot of responsibility. I had to liaise a lot between departments and regions. My senior officer was a major. Life was not always easy but I guess I was a good officer, and I was insulated from many abuses. I was awarded the military service award after twenty-one years of service.

Still, some bad things went down on the inside. I’ll relay just one incident, because it is fresh in my mind. After the coup, some soldiers from my unit went to Magway Town to join in suppressing protesters, under the arrangement of the air force base there. One night after their work on the streets was done, one of the soldiers got drunk and there was an altercation. This guy apparently was well known for being a loudmouth and insulting people when he drank booze.

Well, this time the officer in charge tied him up and beat him—the officer beat him on his own at first, then he ordered other soldiers to beat him too. They rolled a wooden pin down the soldier’s shins. Then they urinated on this guy. In the end they tortured him to death. I know all of this because I read the case file. The worst part about it is that the chief commander of the air force, General Maung Maung Kyaw, ruled that the torture and death were unrelated to military service. Do you know what that means? It means this murdered soldier’s family does not get a pension. After being tortured, pissed on, and killed by his own fellow soldiers—and for what? For getting drunk and hurling insults? This guy had a wife and children!

I only got access to this case file by accident. I photographed it for myself and later supplied it to People’s Embrace, an organization helping people leave the military. This particular case helped me get the courage to speak out. Soldiers were shooting protesters on the Magway streets during the day, then killing each other in the base at night. It is injustice. These are evil acts. Day by day, so many people are dying. As an older man, I just couldn’t take it anymore. The shame grew to be too much for me.

It’s a different military now to the past. When my father was a soldier, they could be proud of wearing the uniform, of defending our community. I myself felt proud serving my country. I felt important. But now in 2021, this has all withered away. The military should protect the lives and property of the people. When I saw videos of soldiers shooting innocent people in the head, I was too horrified. I talked to my father about my feelings.

He actually agreed with the coup. Ridiculous.

These joke charges against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, that she engaged in corruption, are clearly baseless. This woman sacrificed for her country for over thirty years. She is old. Why would she prioritize money and riches? But my father disagreed. I talked straight to him on the phone. I said, “I cannot give my life for these animals. Soldiers eat food provided by the people, so we should stand by the people”. I made plans to leave the military without my father’s blessing.

And without him knowing, I used him as my excuse to get out. I told my commander that my father was very sick, that I had dreamed about him and I was worried. He granted me ten days of leave to go and check on him. I never went back to my dad—I just left immediately. It was tricky as normal public transport was interrupted, but I had friends who helped me, and People’s Soldiers supported me financially. To get from my base to the liberated areas, I caught every kind of transport. Buses, motorbikes, private cars. It took over twenty-four hours.

I only made it out because I am a single guy. I can’t imagine doing it with a wife and kids. Now I am free, I just want to have long hair, a beard, and tattoos. One Axl Rose tattoo and a Daw Aung San Suu Kyi tattoo. When I got to the Civil Disobedience Movement areas, the first thing I did was download all my favorite metal songs: Metallica, Guns ‘n’ Roses and AC/DC.

When the revolution is over I want to roam all over Myanmar like a monk listening to my music. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I have freedom.

Now I live in a liberated area, I have no need to lie. Deep inside, I always hated that I had to lie.

Note

On 12 March 2022, Moe Nyo’s dead body was found in the Moei River which flowed past the village he was hiding in at the time. Locals said that on 11 March he had appeared unhappy. He did not eat the whole day and told people who inquired that he felt unwell. Later in the day, someone noticed his slippers and accessories by the riverside. Moe Nyo rarely washed in the river, let alone on his own. Some people searched for him but came back empty handed. Only the next day, after praying to the spirits of the river, did they find his dead body, its mouth and nose filled with sand. Although they attempted to resuscitate him and sent his body to the hospital, Moe Nyo was pronounced dead on arrival. Moe Nyo is remembered in the village that took him in as a kind person with a wide white smile, admired by locals as well as by other CDM soldiers who had contact with him.