Junta threatens business owners with imprisonment for cooperating with resistance movement

Around 70 owners of shopping centers, malls, and various stores were summoned by the Yangon region military commander to an army office in Yangon’s Mayangone township on Thursday where they were threatened with imprisonment if they supported anti-coup activities. 

The names of each businessperson and their immediate family members were recorded, and their mugshots taken. 

“The court of the military junta can come to a verdict within two days and hand out prison sentences from three to 20 years—a life sentence,” a business owner who was among those summoned said. “They wanted to send us a message that if we do anything, they will take harsh action.” 

Yangon region’s military commander warned those present “not to daydream,” and reminded them that they had established a large military and police force particularly in the six Yangon townships under martial law: Hlaing Tharyar, Shwepyitha, North Okkalapa, South and North Dagon and Dagon Seikkan. He also reportedly said that the regime was working to suppress the ongoing protests. 

“They wanted to give us a warning, mainly not to cooperate with the CRPH,” the business owner said, referring to the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, which has emerged as a parallel governing body since the February 1 military coup. 

Military personnel reportedly told them not to engage with or provide “donations” to the CRPH, the business owner said, and noted that they had been called together because their enterprises pre-dated the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) government’s tenure. 

“They said most people they had summoned were those who had been working since the last military regime and almost no one had begun their business during the NLD era,” the businessperson added. 

One day earlier, on March 24, staff from supermarkets and department store chains including City Mart and Sein Gay Har were also summoned to Yangon’s City Hall for a “meeting” with junta officials, and were held overnight. 

On the same day, stores across the country closed for a “Silent Strike” against the coup regime. 

Business owners who were summoned on March 25 were made to sign a pledge stating that their shops would not close again without a “permission letter,” the son of another business official told Myanmar Now.  


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