Yangon Bank Customers Detained by Myanmar’s Military Regime

By The Irrawaddy 17 March 2021

Family members of four people detained for allegedly inciting people to join the civil disobedience movement (CDM) at a private bank say they have had no contact with them since their arrest.

Military and state-run television channels announced on Tuesday evening that U Thant Zin, Daw Su Thet Mon, Daw Myint Thu and Daw Khin Khin Si were detained at a branch of the KBZ bank in Yangon’s Kamayut Township on March 16. Media for the military regime said that they were arrested after they “forcibly enter” the bank on Pyi Road around 11:30 AM “to condemn the bank’s resumption of operations.”

KBZ said in a statement on Thursday that the bank didn’t call the security forces but that they had arrived unexpectedly and detained four bank customers.

“We will do our best to provide the necessary information to show the four individuals are indeed customers of the bank,” KBZ said in the statement.

The majority of private banks in Myanmar have been closed since the military’s Feb.1 coup because many of their staff have joined the CDM and are refusing to work under the junta’s rule.

With financial flows across the country paralyzed, the regime forced some private banks to open this week. On Tuesday, a handful of private bank branches in Yangon struggled to resume operations.

“They cursed the bank staff for not being part of the CDM, frightening others customers in the bank,” said the newscaster, adding that the four were arrested by security forces who arrived at the bank as soon as they learned about the incident.

But videos filmed by other customers at the bank show that people had come to the branch to withdraw money and were complaining that the bank staff were not handling the customers’ demands properly and not letting them in to the bank before the door was closed.

“We are not staging a protest. We are here to withdraw our money as you said your bank is open,” a woman customer shouted.

The families of the four people detained have been unable to contact them since their arrest.

Daw Cho Zin Lin, the sister of detainees Daw Su Thet Mon and U Thant Zin, said she has no idea of their whereabouts.

“We are still trying to figure out where they are,” she said.

An immediate family member of one of the detained women dismissed the regime’s accusation that she had been inciting people to join the CDM.

“She just went there to withdraw the money we have saved. It was nothing to do with the CDM,” he said, adding that he has lost contact with her now.

“When we reached out to the township police station, they said they don’t know where she is,” he said.

Daw Cho Zin Lin also said her that her sister and brother were not there as part of the CDM but just to withdraw their money.

“They are the bank’s customers and the bank has a responsibility for their safety and release,” she said.

Notice: The story was updated on Thursday 6:17 p.m. to include the bank’s response.

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