Fears are reportedly growing amongst the Yangon-based family members of junta personnel that the military council may not be able to protect them from guerrilla groups’ increasing presence in the city, a member of the police recently told Myanmar Now.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the Yangon Police Force officer explained that families with connections to the coup regime’s security and administrative mechanisms were moving in larger numbers to the military capital of Naypyitaw following assassination attempts by the resistance on those working for the junta in Yangon.
He cited the April 7 shooting of the deputy governor of the junta-controlled Central Bank, Than Than Swe, and three days later of Maj Gaday Phyo Aung, a junta-appointed administrative officer for Lanmadaw Township, as heightening the exodus.
The Yangon Regional Command under the National Unity Government claimed responsibility for the attempt to kill Than Than Swe at her home, citing her as one of the group’s more than 1,100 administrative and economic targets over the last seven months. Another urban guerrilla group was reportedly behind the fatal shooting of Maj Gaday Phyo Aung near Mawtin Port.
However, Naypyitaw locals reported witnessing an uptick in new arrivals for months.
“Starting from January this year, many new people have started settling in Naypyitaw,” a taxi driver from the region said, noting that most appear to be the family members of military officers.
Their presence has driven up the cost of land and homes in Pobbathiri Township, located at the centre of Naypyitaw, according to locals. Much of the township is made up of residents with military ties, due to the presence of the Naypyitaw Regional Military Command.
“The real estate prices significantly boomed after so many new settlers arrived. Land plots in Pobbathiri which nobody wanted to buy even at the prices of four to five million kyat (US$2,150 – $2,686) have been sold for 20 million kyat ($10,748),” a 35-year-old man living in the township said.
Another local with ties to the military said that officers were also relocating to Pobbathiri from Mandalay, citing “security reasons.”
After a string of attacks by defence forces on checkpoints, a junta informant, and even a military column in August and September of last year, activities by the resistance movement in Naypyitaw have died down.
The country has been in turmoil since the military ousted the elected civilian government led by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup on February 1 last year; she remains detained in an undisclosed location in Naypyitaw, facing multiple criminal charges. After peaceful protests against the junta were targeted in lethal crackdowns in the months that followed, many opponents to the coup regime took up arms in response to the military’s attempt to stamp out dissent.
Many political activists and members of the armed resistance were subsequently forced to relocate to liberated areas under the control of ethnic armed organisations in order to escape arrest, torture or death at the hands of the Myanmar army.
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As the junta has gagged the lawyers of the detained leaders in an attempt to restrict information from being shared about their court cases, Myanmar Now is unable to independently verify Maung Maung Swe’s accounts of the interactions.
However, this is not the first time Suu Kyi has addressed her supporters or the public since her arrest. In April last year, Suu Kyi delivered a message to the public through her legal team during a hearing in Naypyitaw, according to a source close to the court. She urged the people “to stay united,” said the source. She gave the rare statement to her lawyers during a session in a junta court specially designated to review charges brought against her by the military.
The source told Myanmar Now at that time that she urged the public “to stay united and hold discussions on different views. If they still aren’t able to open dialogues now, she said to wait patiently until it is possible to do so.”
Suu Kyi wanted people with different or contrasting opinions to get along with one another and believed “negotiations would be necessary in order to come to a common solution amongst the people,” the source explained.