The number of properties seized by authorities in Myanmar over their owners’ alleged ties to the armed resistance has risen to 789 since last year’s coup, and has expanded to include those owned by relatives of the accused, RFA Burmese has learned.
Data obtained by RFA, based on statistics from Thailand’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) and the deposed National League for Democracy party’s Human Rights Documentation Team, showed an increase of 203 properties seized by late May, when a report by independent research group the Institute for Strategy and Policy (Myanmar) said junta security forces had confiscated 586 properties since the Feb. 1, 2021 takeover.
The properties seized are mostly owned by people with alleged ties to the shadow National Unity Government, Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Committee of Representatives (CRPH), and anti-junta People’s Defense Force (PDF) paramilitary group — all of which the regime considers “terrorist organizations.”
In one of the more high profile seizures since May, on Nov. 9, junta police and officials in civilian clothes confiscated the home of NUG Foreign Minister Zin Mar Aung in Yangon region’s North Okkalapa township.
A day earlier, authorities in Yangon’s Hlaing township seized the home of the parents of CRPH member Sithu Maung – a former member of parliament for the NLD in Yangon’s Pabedan township.
Speaking to RFA, Sithu Maung said that seizing his parents’ home was “not only totally unlawful, but a deliberate act of suppression” by the junta.
“It’s not in accordance with the law to seize the home of the parents of the target,” he said.
“I don’t hold any ownership of my parents’ home nor do I keep any documents in my name there … I moved to Pabedan township ages ago.”
He said rule of law and reparations for victims of home seizures like his parents will have to wait until military rule has ended in Myanmar.
Other high profile seizures since May include that of the family home of Pa-O National Federation Council Chairman Khun Myint Tun in Mon state’s Thaton township on Oct. 12. Khun Myint Tun, a former political prisoner, was formerly an MP for the NLD in 1990, and the home served as the elections office for the party during Myanmar’s 1990, 2015 and 2020 polls.
According to the NLD’s Human Rights Documentation Team, the military had seized 278 homes and 39 businesses owned by 274 NLD members as of the end of October. They included the homes of 136 NLD MPs.
Junta’s ‘hatred of all things NLD’
Bo Bo Oo, an NLD MP in Yangon’s Dala township, told RFA the seizures were motivated by the junta’s “hatred of all things NLD.”
“In every election, the military-backed parties always lost because everyone in Myanmar supported the NLD,” he said.
“Since they can’t compete against the NLD in any free and fair elections, they just choose to cowardly suppress us in this way.”
When contacted by RFA for comment on the property seizures, junta Deputy Information Minister Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun described them as “lawfully ordered” because of their ties to the PDF and other armed groups.
While Myanmar’s law states that authorities may confiscate the properties of any fugitive charged with a crime, a legal expert told RFA on condition of anonymity that the seizures since the coup were “only intended to suppress anti-junta activists and to solidify the junta’s power.”
“The junta is trying to end the people’s support for the CRPH, NUG, and PDF, who they accuse of being terrorists … It’s obvious that they are doing this for their political advantage,” they said.
Ko Tun of the Myanmar-based Human Rights Initiative called the junta’s seizure of civilian homes a “major human rights violation.”
“Seizing homes and properties based on someone’s political involvement, such as peacefully demonstrating or taking part in anti-dictatorship activities, is a human rights violation on top of all the other crimes committed by the junta,” he said.
The junta says voter fraud led to the NLD’s landslide victory in the country’s November 2020 election but has yet to provide evidence for its claims. It has instead violently suppressed nationwide protests calling for a return to civilian rule, killing 2,530 people and arresting 16,388 in the 21 months since, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
Most detainees from the NLD were charged for alleged crimes that carry heavy sentences, including rebellion, corruption, unlawful association and incitement.
The NLD said in January that more than three-quarters of its members arrested by the junta remained in detention more than 11 months after the military seized power. Since the Feb. 1 coup, junta security forces have arrested hundreds of NLD members, including leader Aung San Suu Kyi and former President Win Myint.
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