Military-affiliated malls burned down in Yangon, suspected to be inside-job
Two department stores in Yangon burned down during the early hours of the morning of April 1st.
One was the Ruby Mart, located on Bogyoke Road in Kyauktadar Township, and another was The Gandamar Wholesale Center, at the intersection of Waizayandar and Gandamar roads in Mayangone Township. Both are known for their affiliation with the military, because businesses which hold equity in both locations, are military owned, partially or fully.
According to witnesses, the fires started between 2am and 3am. The military have yet to make any announcement regarding the incidents, but netizens expect the blame to be placed on anti-coup protests.
Local news media also reported that, as the Ruby Mart started burning, people living nearby rushed out to help extinguish the fire, but were kept away by security forces. A civilian, from the railway staff quarters, located right in front of the Ruby Mart, was also shot and killed. Witnesses also claim that the victim’s son and daughter were arrested, while the body of the victim was taken away by soldiers.
After the February 1st coup, there were widespread calls to boycott junta-owned or military-affiliated businesses, with both Ruby Mart and Gandamar Wholesale on the boycott list. Since then, Ruby Mart had been taking more precautions, by employing more security guards and shuttering its doors.
The Gandamar Wholesale Center is also located within a compound and, since the coup, the gates have remained closed, with a higher security presence.
“I was woken up by loud bangs. I rushed to get up to check and saw that the sky was gray and orange with the flames lighting up the clouds of smoke. I went down to help, but when I got down, my neighbours, who were already on the street, told me that it was unsafe because soldiers are shooting at anyone they see. So I went back up and kept watching from my balcony. It is impossible for citizens to have started the fire. Since day 1, they put more security there and it remained closed most of the time. For that size of blaze, it had to have started inside the building, with plenty of fuel for the fire. I think tonight’s news will mention that the people are causing riots and committing arson. It is the same ploy they used in ‘88 (referring to the 1988 revolution),” said a middle-aged man living on a street near the Ruby Mart.