Staff from supermarkets and department store chains including City Mart and Sein Gay Har were summoned to Yangon’s City Hall on Wednesday, as stores across the country closed for a “Silent Strike” against the coup regime.
Family members and store officials said the employees were summoned at around noon and that they would likely be held overnight.
The shopping chains are among a number of major businesses that closed as part of the strike, which was organised to counter the regime’s efforts to reopen the economy almost two months after its coup plunged the country into chaos.
The ride-hailing service Grab, as well as the Pizza Company and other restaurants also halted operations on Wednesday, as streets in many towns and cities remained empty of cars and pedestrians and anti-coup activists urged people to stay home.
Three City Mart representatives were called to what authorities described as a “meeting,” an official from the company told Myanmar Now. The move was an effort to warn the company off of siding with the movement against the regime, she said.
Her colleagues at the company are “monitoring the situation,” she added.
Two family members of people who were called to City Hall told Myanmar Now they believed their relatives had had their phones taken away from them.
One staff member from Orange, a chain of department stores, contacted a relative from a phone number that wasn’t his to say he might have to spend the night at City Hall, his sister said.
The son of an employee from Sein Gay Har told Myanmar Now that his father was called in at midday. “I heard it was a meeting… He called my mother just before 9pm from another mobile number,” he said.
His father contacted the family again after midnight to say he would not be able to come home until the morning, he added.
About 100 staff members from different supermarkets and department stores were being held at City Hall, his father told him. Myanmar Now was unable to verify the exact number of people who were summoned.
Staff members in branch manager positions from every chain were called in, a source familiar with the matter told Myanmar Now.
The authorities summoned them and said they would be picked up from their houses if they did not show up, the source added.