Myanmar junta forces detained dozens of protesters amid searches and arrests of protesters over the past 24 hours, including 25 in a northwestern city known for heavy resistance to the junta, witnesses said Thursday.
Though security forces have cracked down on protesters in Kalay, killing at least a dozen people in a siege of demonstrators’ barricades early this month, daily demonstrations have continued. Protest leaders said at least 25 people had been arrested in the past few days for joining street protests in that Sagaing region city.
In Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, a schoolteacher and a ward administrator who were participating in the civil disobedience movement (CDM), a series of work stoppages and other gestures in opposition to the Feb. 1 military coup that deposed the elected government, they said.
Police and soldiers are searching for homemade weapons, mobile phone apps, saved photos, and social media accounts, a Mandalay resident who is under investigation by junta forces told RFA Thursday.
The Irrawaddy online news outlet reported that the Yangon house of Thein Nyunt, a former National League for Democracy (NLD) member who had joined the State Administrative Council (SAC), the junta’s formal, name, was attacked with three pipe bombs Wednesday evening.
“Three homemade bombs were thrown at the house. Only one bomb exploded. One of them was made with PVC pipe and the others were made with iron pipes. No one was injured and there was no serious damage,” the Irrawaddy quoted a source close to Thein Nyunt.
Thein Nyunt had been a member of the NLD from 1988 to 2010, when he left the party and started his own, winning election in 2010, but losing contests in 2015 and 2020. A critic of leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was deposed and arrested on Feb. 1, he was viewed as a “turncoat” by the ruling NLD, the outlet said.
Police raids and fires
Despite the crackdown on protests against the military dictatorship, various groups, including students at Mandalay’s Yadanabon University, continued their lightning protests.
Security forces raided a housing estate in Chanmyathazi township Thursday morning and arrested two women and two men, including a female student studying at the Mandalay Institute of Medicine, a lawyer, and an IT technician, locals said.
“Police and soldiers had specific names, addresses, and apartment numbers when they raided the place and arrested four people, including women,” the person said. “I don’t know for what reason.”
The local resident overheard security forces saying that they didn’t find the person they wanted and that they would return later. However, they arrested all those found in the house.
“I’m now seeking info about my brother who was nabbed the other day even though he hadn’t done anything political,” the local man said. “We heard he is being held in Obo Prison but haven’t had a chance to go to see him yet.”
On Wednesday, a restaurant owner was being sought in the same housing estate, and an employee was taken away because the owner could not be found, according to residents.
A fire broke out at Taungthaman village’s administration office in Amarapura township, Mandalay region, though the cause is not yet known.
A website opened under the name of the Office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces said that 62 ward administration offices in Mandalay region had been set on fire between Feb. 1 and Apr. 15.
In Sagaing region, a 30-foot-long wooden bridge on the road between Khin-U and Ye-U townships was set on fire at 3 a.m. Thursday, cutting off traffic, local residents said,
Soon after the fire began, soldiers entered nearby Thagara village and searched the homes of the ward administrator and the village chairman of the local NLD office, they said. Village residents fled, and no one was arrested.
In Yangon, a fire broke out Wednesday evening at the labor office in South Dagon township, but the cause was unknown, a resident said. There were no reports of injuries during the four-hour blaze, which burned an area without houses.
Arrests in Sagaing, Kayin
In the town of Kalay in Sagaing region, soldiers and police arrested former ward administrator, Zatu Lian, also known as Patu, who had joined the CDM, on Wednesday evening, a witness said.
“Police and soldiers arrived in eight military vehicles,” he said. “They went straight into the house to make the arrest. They took him away handcuffed. He took part in the protest marches earlier but had not done so recently.”
Zatu Lian resigned as ward administrator on Feb. 8, saying he did not want to continue serving under the military dictatorship.
Security forces in Hpa-an, Kayin state, on Wednesday arrested Nway Nway Hlaing, a primary school teacher who joined the CDM, residents said. She had been in hiding in a nearby village for the past several days.
She was arrested after her brother disclosed her hiding place to authorities under threat of arrest of the whole family, they said.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), an advocacy group based in Thailand, 739 people had been killed in violent crackdowns in Myanmar since Feb. 1, and 3,370 others were being detained as of Thursday.
Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.