Three activists detained over bank robberies ‘to fund armed resistance’ against the junta

Three young anti-coup activists were arrested on Sunday in Yangon’s Tamwe Township and accused of helping to rob two banks to raise funds for armed resistance against the junta. 

Win Htet Mar, who is the former chair of a local branch of the Youth for a New Society activist group, was detained at 9:30am at her apartment on 152nd street.

“Residents from Win Htet Mar’s neighbourhood told me that plainclothes officers from the military broke into the apartment she was staying in,” a fellow activist said.

Kyaw Zin Lin and Pyae Phyo Kyaw, two activists from the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, were arrested in Tamwe later that afternoon, he added. 

“The two were together when the military made the arrests. I think [the soldiers] came to their apartment after arresting Win Htet Mar,” he told Myanmar Now.

Relatives said they do not know where the three are being held.

The activists all played leading roles in street protests against the coup regime after the military seized power in February. 

Military-run newspapers on Wednesday accused the three activists of being involved in robberies at two branches of the Global Treasure Bank, in South Okkalapa and Mayangon townships, on July 15 and August 30.

Robbers stole more than 136m kyat (roughly $75,000) from the banks, the newspapers said. The reports named seven other people accused of involvement.  

Kyaw Zin Lin is accused of supervising the robberies and of possessing weapons and ammunition at his apartment. He attended a “terrorist training course” in territory controlled by the Kachin Independence Army along with Win Htet Mar and three others involved in the robberies, the newspapers claimed. 

The reports said the stolen money was spent “on purchasing vehicles and weapons, renting apartments, supporting protesters in Yangon and… personal staff.”

“Their gang aimed to rob and lead to armed attacks,” the Global New Light of Myanmar said. 

Myanmar’s underground National Unity Government declared a “resistance war” against the junta on September 7. Since then, the military has intensified its hunt for people involved in armed resistance against regime targets. 

Junta forces in Yangon carried out several raids last week aimed at stamping out guerrilla attacks on soldiers and military informants in the city. 

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