Young but Determined Female Medics in Myanmar Junta Jail

By The Irrawaddy 1 December 2021

Biak Rem Chin, an ethnic Chin woman affectionately known to her colleagues as Sayama [nurse] Chin Chin, died far too young while working as a medic for a civilian resistance group fighting back against Myanmar’s military regime.

She had turned 23 just three days before she was killed by junta soldiers.

Chin Chin left her family almost two months ago, determined to do her share in the fight against the military dictatorship, traveling with friends to become a medic with Battalion 3 of the People’s Defense Force (PDF) in Sagaing Region’s Kale Township.

Female medics captured by junta forces in Kale Township./Photo CJ

On November 16-17, the civilian resistance fighters clashed with regime troops in southwest Kale at the border with Chin State.

Nine female medics were captured during a junta raid of a Kale PDF Battalion 3 base. But Chin Chin and two male resistance fighters, Cher Thang Puia, 27, Ram Mawia, 26, were found dead when the PDF members returned to the base on November 18.

All the female medics are under 30 and have sacrificed everything to join the fight against the military regime.

Chin Chin had not seen her parents since she left home two months ago, and she did not have a chance to bid her final farewell to them before she departed this world.

Female medics captured by junta forces in Kale Township./Photo CJ

“We haven’t seen her for two months. She phoned her mother twice during that period. She said that she had gone there because she wanted to share her medical knowledge, as she could do nothing else while the country is in chaos. Her mother told her to come back, but she said she would stay to take care of the sick and wounded,” said Chin Chin’s father.

Her parents learned about her death online, like many other families. When the photo of the female medics captured in Kale circulated online, they hoped that their daughter would be in the photo. But she was not.

“We saw her friends in the photo, but not her. We could not eat or sleep. Then we saw online reports that two men and a woman had died at the scene and it was our daughter,” said Chin Chin’s father.

He said that his last wish is to bury his daughter himself.

Chin Chin’s friend Daisy Vanlalrawni, a Mizo singer, was one of the nine women captured in Kale by regime troops.

“They are not trained nurses. They served as volunteers during the COVID-19 outbreaks and learned some things from doctors. They left their homes to share their medical knowledge with the PDF members and to help internally displaced persons. They [Chin Chin and Daisy] taught English at church school,” said the leader of the Kale PDF.

Female medics captured by junta forces in Kale Township./Photo CJ

Daisy left home against her mother’s will to do what she believes in, her brother said.

“I am very sad that she was captured.  But I encourage her to keep fighting, to keep doing what she believes in,” he added.

The youngest of four siblings, Daisy will turn 25 on December 26. She is the only girl in the family and much loved by her elder brothers.

When Myanmar was hit in June by the deadly third wave of COVID-19, Daisy volunteered at COVID-19 centers. Tragically, she lost her own mother to coronavirus. Her father is a former soldier who retired on health grounds.

Trained as an English teacher, Daisy loves to sing gospel and English songs. Despite not being a nurse, she chose to serve the resistance movement with first aid knowledge she learned during COVID-19 outbreaks.

“As her family members, we are sad. But we are proud of her for what she has striven to do for the country,” said Daisy’s family members.

The bold look on the faces of the nine detained women seen in the photo shared on social media shows their steely determination to face any consequences.

The nine women have recently been sent to Kale Prison. It remains unclear what charges the junta has filed against them. Their family members have not yet been allowed to visit them and their health status remains unknown, a Kale PDF member told The Irrawaddy.

“I only knew she was sent to Kale jail after ward administrators told us. I went to the prison last Saturday to give her some clothes and snacks. But I was not allowed to meet her and could only leave those things with the prison authorities. I worry about her because she was injured,” said the elder sister of 20-year-old Lallmuankimi, one of the nine women detained.

All the detainees participated in frontline anti-regime protests before joining the civilian resistance, said a Kale PDF member.

“They joined the Kale PDF out of their belief and passion to rebel against the military regime,” added the Kale PDF member.

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