Myanmar regime arrests five amid curfew rumours in Mandalay

All five appear to have been targeted by pro-junta social media groups for spreading “fake news” and showing support for regime opponents

Five people have been arrested in Mandalay over the past week as Myanmar’s military moves to quash rumours that it is planning to impose a curfew on the country’s second-largest city, according to residents.

On November 8, a 35-year-old man was arrested at his phone shop in Mahaaungmyay Township after reportedly claiming on social media that the rumours of a curfew had been confirmed.

“He was taken away at gunpoint the morning after he posted that,” a man who lives near the phone shop told Myanmar Now.

Later the same day, at around 11pm, a similar scene was reported in Aungmyaythazan Township, where another young man in his 20s was seen being forcibly removed from a guest house.

The identity of the man could not be confirmed, but it is believed that his arrest was also related to the curfew rumours, which have circulated widely in the city since the start of a major anti-regime offensive in neighbouring Shan State more than two weeks ago.

A day after the first two arrests, three others were also taken into custody, according to a local source.

“They were taken away for posting things about the curfew. One of them, a female betel nut seller, also got into trouble for posting a video of herself with an eugenia plant and playing a song called ‘May You Get Success’ on TikTok,” said a Mandalay man familiar with the situation.

The eugenia plant is regarded as a symbol of success in Myanmar, and has been widely used recently to show support for People’s Defence Force (PDF) groups and other junta opponents.

The woman, who has not been identified by name, was later seen in a video shared by pro-junta Telegram channels. The video, which appears to have been filmed inside an interrogation cell, shows her holding a sprig of eugenia and repeatedly shouting, “PDFs will never win!”

The other two people who were arrested on November 9 were identified as Nyein Wai Lu, 25, and Aung San Maw, 30. Myanmar Now was unable to learn more about the circumstances of their arrest, but they were also reported to have been targeted by pro-junta social media groups for their online activities.

In addition to monitoring social media and arresting those accused of spreading “fake news” online, junta officials in Mandalay have also reportedly been sending administrative staff to rural areas closer to the conflict zone, warning them through loudspeakers not to believe anything they hear about the fighting.

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