Myanmar Junta Seizes Hundreds of Opponents’ Homes

By The Irrawaddy 3 March 2022

Proving that it is even more ruthless than its predecessors, the Myanmar military regime led by coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has seized hundreds of houses belonging to individuals taking part in the anti-regime movement across the country, hoping to weaken resistance to its rule.

In an unprecedented move, since seizing power on Feb. 1 last year the junta has targeted properties owned by its opponents, mainly elected lawmakers and members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), officials of the ousted NLD-led government, and representatives of the shadow National Unity Government (NUG) and its parliamentary committee the CRPH, but also political activists, striking civil servants, journalists, celebrities and businessmen who have supported the resistance movement against the regime.

According to data compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), an advocacy group, at least 267 houses and other properties owned by individuals had been seized by the junta as of Jan. 20, with nearly half of those belonging to NLD lawmakers and members.

A spokesperson for the group said the actual number was likely much higher, as the number of cases on the ground was likely underreported, and many reported cases were as yet unverified.

“Going beyond [its predecessors], the current regime is finding more repressive ways to intimidate individuals who join the revolution by targeting the homes and property they left behind,” the AAPP spokesperson told The Irrawaddy.

Since last month, the regime has significantly stepped up its targeting of properties owned by opponents of the coup, the spokesperson added. “We have seen junta forces confiscating civilians’ property almost every day.”

By The Irrawaddy’s estimate, last month alone the junta sealed off houses and other property owned by more than 100 civilians.

Among those whose homes were seized by the junta in February were veteran student leader U Min Ko Naing, NLD Central Executive Committee member and lawmaker Daw May Win Myint, NLD lawmaker Daw Thiri Yadanar, former political prisoner Ko Bo Tauk, three NLD party supporters in Mon State’s Thaton, two residents of Khin-U in Sagaing, film director Ko Pauk, celebrity vocalist couple Lynn Lynn and Chit Thu Wai, presenter Maung Maung Aye, social influencer Ei Pencilo, and police major U Tin Min Tun, who left his job to join the Civil Disobedience Movement against the regime. The office of the Mahar rescue group in Mandalay was also seized.

The house of Ei Pencilo is confiscated by junta forces in February.

Several businessmen and shop owners who joined the nationwide silent strike on Feb. 1 to mark the anniversary of the coup were also arrested and their property seized.

Ei Pencilo, who went into hiding after the junta issued a warrant for her arrest a few weeks after the coup, wrote that she was not surprised by the junta’s seizure of her residence in Yangon.

“It is nothing compared to the youths and civilians who have paid with their lives and are sacrificing for the revolution,” she wrote, adding that it only made her more determined that the revolution must succeed.

“They can seal off the house but they can’t break our revolutionary spirit,” she said.

Junta supporters and military-linked accounts on the Telegram messaging app have shared private information of civilian supporters of the anti-regime movement, inciting violence against them and encouraging their arrest and the confiscation of their property.

The junta has searched, raided and sealed off the houses of those identified as regime opponents on the channel. After sealing off the houses and shops, junta forces place notices at the entrance reading, “This land/building is sealed off for supporting the terrorist CRPH, NUG and PDF.” The PDF, or People’s Defense Force, is a network of armed resistance groups that supports the NUG.

The NUG described the regime’s seizure of citizens’ houses and other property as illegal and an act of cowardice and repression against civilians, in a statement issued this week amid the ongoing daily confiscations of private property by junta forces.

“Each and every [individual] involved in such illegal activities shall be held accountable,” it added, calling on people to report all property seizures to the NUG’s Home Affairs Ministry, along with information on those involved.

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