Moe Zet

ယခုဆောင်းပါးကို အင်္ဂလိပ်ဘာသာဖြင့် ဖတ်ရှုရန် ဤနေရာတွင် နှိပ်ပါ

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

My name is Moe Zet. I had some problems at home with my dad when I grew up on our family farm. He was not patient with me when I tried to help with the harvest. I really resented him. I used to watch a lot of action and war movies in my spare time. Because I loved these movies, and I resented my father, I joined up with the military, and eventually became a clerk at sergeant rank in the air force. I joined in January 2014, so I was in the air force for over seven years in the end. When I joined up, I did not truly understand what the military was like. But now I know.

Please allow me to take this opportunity to focus on the rights and composure of soldiers. Although I was happy in the military for a while, I came to realize that it had many problems. I experienced these myself and I also saw them professionally as a clerk. There were simple things, like senior officers taking money supposed to be provided to juniors, for example to support their training. But let me give some other examples.

One of my responsibilities was processing the paperwork for soldiers’ retirements and providing them to the major general for approval. Sometimes good soldiers with even twenty years’ service had their retirement denied. The way that the major general spoke about soldiers trying to resign was demeaning. He insulted veterans who were injured and disabled, missing limbs for example. These guys would often sell newspapers or things after leaving the army. The major general said that by doing so, these veterans were disgracing the military. He had no grace. These were his injured comrades he was talking about!

In my own experience, I had a simple medical problem, but because I was a low-ranking soldier, I suffered a lot. My wisdom teeth were jutting out and causing me a lot of pain. In my barracks, we had to cook our own food, and my mouth would be swollen and sore every time someone cooked anything smoky or flavorful. I could only eat soy milk and soft breadcrumbs.

At that time the COVID-19 pandemic had already begun, so we were not allowed to attend civilian hospitals. We could only go to military hospitals. When I went to one in Nay Pyi Taw, expecting to be treated warmly, I was struck by the indifference of the staff. They could only book me in for an appointment far in advance. But it’s not easy to leave the base and come back again… So, I went to another military hospital when I had the chance, this time in Yangon, and they said the same thing; they could only book me in to extract the teeth in over a month’s time. The tooth never got extracted.

They don’t give a damn about us!

After the coup, I made a few Facebook posts about how the military was driving tanks around downtown Yangon. Seriously? Is that necessary? Then they started shooting protesters. I was transporting bulletins and messages between army bases as part of my job. When I went outside with official documents I felt ashamed to be wearing the military uniform, riding in a military truck. I used to be proud going outside as a soldier. But now I was insecure and confused; I couldn’t look civilians in the eye.

One of my friends in the military told me he was going to join the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) and asked if I would join with him. It was a big risk to ask me this. I think he must have seen my Facebook posts. I talked to my parents. They were concerned and said I should wait for a while. My friend asked me to leave in April 2021, but we only managed to get out three months later, in July. It was a long and treacherous journey, but we were helped along by kind civilians. We eventually arrived in a liberated area, outside the army’s control.

Now I am free, I am trying to help get things ready for some new arrivals, building shelters and things. I am active on social media, trying to assist people who want to join the CDM. It’s hard for some soldiers still on the inside, like I said, they do not have their full rights. But there are also many spineless sycophants who are in the army just for easy money.

Then there are also men who are actually happy to kill civilians for the military, even though they know deep down it is wrong. Does killing satisfy them? Do they want civilians to be afraid of soldiers? I knew many men like this. The military should have no such selfish men. The next generation should not be like that.