At least 100 staff from some the country’s largest retailers were detained overnight by the military regime, after stores across the country closed down on Wednesday to participate in a ‘Silent Strike’ in protest at the rule of the junta.
Staff, including branch managers, from City Mart, Sein Gay Har Shopping Center, Capital Hypermarket and Orange were detained at Yangon’s City Hall after they were called there for a meeting around 3pm on March 24 by officials from the Yangon City Development Committee.
One of the heads of the largest retailer in Myanmar told The Irrawaddy that staff notified the office around 8:30 PM that they were not allowed to return home. “We lost contact with the staff around 10:30 PM. Phones were taken away by the authorities,” he said.
“They [officials] questioned them repeatedly about why we closed the stores and asked what we would need to resume business as usual,” he added.
“It is like they are threatening all the shopping chains not to participate in further public protests against the military,” he stressed.
On Wednesday night the regime’s general administration officials announced that in some major cities shops and markets must be opened, claiming that the shutting down of businesses would hurt the operation of the country’s administration and is against the public interest. The junta said that they would take serious action against those who failed to follow the order.
The Irrawaddy contacted some staff to ask about their experiences in overnight detention. But they refused to talk in order to avoid further problems with the regime. Some had already contacted their head offices in the morning, while others had not.
People across Myanmar took part in the ‘Silent Strike’ on Wednesday to show their defiance of the junta, despite the regime’s efforts to reopen shuttered businesses in an attempt to show that the country is getting back to normal. Anti-coup protesters stayed home, while wholesalers, markets, malls and convenient stores were closed nationwide.
Since the military’s Feb.1 coup, most of the country’s largest retailers have participated in anti-regime protests. Stores across the country have closed, allowing staff to participate in a series of nationwide strikes against the junta.
After protesters called for the boycotting of products made by military-linked companies, most of the country’s largest retailers have subsequently refused to sell such products at their shops.
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