I grew up at a time when my country was ruled by the military. Though I was little, I understood the full meaning of their leadership : brutal, direct, and ruthless. Under military dictatorship, basic human rights was not a right, it was a privilege they can take away whenever they wish to - and they did take it away on a couple of occasions.

Needless to say, I developed some type of resentment towards the military because they wielded an unreasonable amount of power. In fact, they had the power to kill without being questioned; and on a couple of times, they did kill without being questioned. That was in the 1990s.

When democracy took over just before Y2K, I was hopeful. We've been sparingly taught in primary school that democracy is a type where people and government are on the same pedestal, and not the master-slave relationship we had under military dictatorship. I was hopeful.

Growing up, we either ran as fast as our legs could carry us or remained dead silent whenever we came across a military man. We grew up with stories about how people were killed just for laughing too hard or making too much noise as a military man walked by. So, making the same mistake would be stupid. With democratic government installed, we celebrated the end of the panic-inducing regime of the overlords.

However, one thing we failed to notice was the profile of our democratically elected leaders. To put it in a mild way, they were mostly military men who merely changed the khaki for a kaftan or suit. We switched from military to democracy, but the military torment never stopped; all they did was to find new means to exert what they call 'justifiable force'.

So, with all the unpleasantness the military is associated with, I learnt to avoid and evade them as much as possible. Till today, I've never been singly involved in an altercation with the military, though I've had terrible experiences with them as part of a group. Despite never being a direct target of military rage, I've still had very bad memories.

The one that instantly comes to mind was the mini riot I was caught up in during my school days. It started as an altercation between a student and a commercial motorcyclist, and the student was badly hurt. Having endured oppression at the hands of the indigenes far too many times, that was the tipping point that led to an all out war between indigenes and students. Of course, the military intervened and quelled the rioting with bouts of baton and teargas. However, it didn't end there.

Few hours after the riot quelled, the students' area was bombarded at regular intervals with streams of military dudes. Anything that moved was arrested on sight. Hostels were broken into, napping students dragged out of bed like criminals and transported to detention centres. Some had only pants and singlets on them but that didn't deter those military guys from rough handling them. I and a couple guys managed to escape to the nearest bush where we spent the night due to the incessant arrests that lasted till late in the night. The next morning, I was on the first bus back to my city.

In all honesty, it will be very hard for someone from my country to have good tales to tell about his/her encounter with the men in uniform. We grew up with the knowledge that military dudes get injected with drugs that makes them emotionless and power hungry. With each passing day, it's always hard to argue against that notion. It's just unfortunate how a group of people who are paid to protect citizens suddenly made themselves masters over those citizens, maltreating them as they deem fit without repercussions. Anytime a military dude walks by, I'm always reminded of the horrible name we coined for them in the 90s. It is "kill and go". And, yes, they're still killing and getting away with it!

Image Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/vOReJNaJ9cU

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