Nwe Oo

ယခုဆောင်းပါးကို မြန်မာဘာသာဖြင့် ဖတ်ရှုရန် ဤနေရာတွင် နှိပ်ပါ

Cite as: 
The Memoir of Nwe Oo. (2022). Independent Journal of Burmese Scholarship, 1. https://ijbs.online/?page_id=3465

I am Nwe Oo, 22 years old, and the man who is now my husband was a soldier in Light Infantry Battalion 5, Light Infantry Division 66 before he joined the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). In fact… I threatened that I wouldn’t marry him if he didn’t join the CDM. But I will get into that later.

Some more about me: well, I never lived inside a military compound like some wives of soldiers. I worked for a mobile phone company as a supervisor. It was hard when the 1 February military coup happened because I was on the outside, living in the community, but my future husband was stuck inside a military compound. As a result we also received different kinds of information about what was going on.

I saw all the shootings and the suppression of peaceful protesters firsthand. It was such a tragedy. It was not long ago that we finally got democracy, even if it was only partial and the military was still involved. We had received so many investments from foreign countries. I thought our country’s future was bright and that the economy would develop. So many dreams and expectations. There is no positive future under military rule. Just look at what is happening now. Kids cannot even go to school, more than a year after the coup. It is such a waste.

Only the corrupt elites benefit under military rule. There are no opportunities for average people and low-ranked soldiers. If a soldier dies in battle, the army says they will support their family, but they rarely do. Heaps of injured veteran amputees sell books and do other menial jobs to make ends meet. There are so many you can’t even count them. Low-ranking soldiers are the ones sent to die on the battlefields, but the elites above don’t even deign to pick up their dead bodies. They only move the bodies of the civilians they shoot in the head, and then only if it suits them.

Although I never lived in a military compound, I still know a bit about what goes on in there. If you are the wife of a junior soldier, you are instructed to do whatever the wives of seniors’ ask of you. You are not allowed to wear better clothes or live better than those wives. As a soldier’s wife, you are expected to do everything you are told by those with power—and don’t even think about receiving a salary. You are like a surprise gift, a fetus, that comes within a bought slave. Two for the price of one. Before the coup I had high hopes that our army could become like a standard army, with more benefits for average soldiers and care for civilians. Now those are crushed like all else.

My future husband is a good man and I am proud of him. He chose not to arrest and torture people. But even so, at the beginning of the coup, he had no idea what was going on in the streets of the country. It took him a while to realize how bad the situation was. I had to really be patient with him. We talked a lot and I managed to persuade him to leave the military. I told him how nothing was certain anymore, how our lives and property were no longer safe, how the SAC was doing whatever they wanted. You save up from working, buy something today, but the next day it might not be yours anymore according to the military’s capricious force.

I quit my job a month before we left for the liberated areas. My man and I quarreled a lot. I sent all the news of every massacre to him, constantly. I sent him all the videos of arguments, arbitrary arrests, beatings and shootings. He stopped saying nonsense eventually. He used to say, “Oh, it can’t be that bad”. I spent a month preparing our route and liaising with organizations that help people escape military service. I didn’t tell my family until I was far away and safe—then I disconnected from them entirely, for their security. Until now the State Administration Council representatives have never visited my family.

Everything for our trip was organized and all my future husband had to do was leave the army. I told him I would marry him and I had organized his whole path to the outside. I was worried all the time, but he actually did it: he left. We avoided the military checkpoints, but it was still a difficult journey to the liberated areas. I freaked out every time I saw police or army personnel. By the time we got to safety, we only had the clothes on our backs, nothing else. But our challenges were nothing compared to the innocent people tortured and killed for protesting.

My husband understood that he had been partly brainwashed. There is so much propaganda within the military. They don’t think of people as actual people. They just see “obstructors” and “terrorists”. They are not told that People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) were formed organically by people after they were attacked by the military who had stolen power. They are told PDFs are terrorists who bomb schools and markets and want to prevent the country’s prosperity.

All people have humanity, even soldiers. They cannot harm and kill without reason. But because they are brainwashed into thinking pro-democracy civilians are subhuman, they shoot without mercy. I am so proud my husband never went down the road he was on within his division. If he was in the military doing these things, I would be so ashamed of my life. I could not have accepted him, needless to mention my family accepting him, I simply could never have married him.

More girlfriends, wives and family members of soldiers must talk to their loved ones in the military. They must explain the facts and figures and the atrocities the army is still carrying out. How innocent people, children and the elderly are being harmed. Every benefit you think you get from being attached to the military is nothing compared to the benefit of standing on the side of the people. Your children will be forever outcasts if they come from a military family. Think of your family and be brave.

To all the wives of soldiers out there in particular, especially those with young families, you must convince your soldier husbands to be protectors of their children. Every man wants to protect their beloved family and property. Many are not leaving the army because they fear for their loved ones’ futures. They may think they cannot work outside. But this same motivation should actually drive them to escape the military’s clutches. Their children’s lives will be limited and they will grow up as pariahs under a Myanmar that is military-ruled and the people outside are miserable.

Wives must convince their husbands to leave the army for a better future for their families. When all of this is over, I want to learn a foreign language, travel and then join an NGO to assist displaced people in my country. I want to work in a job where I can help those who are suffering and benefit my community.