Auction of activists’ homes seen as revenge for sale of junta assets — Radio Free Asia

A reported plan to auction the homes of anti-coup activists is the military regime’s bid for revenge after Myanmar’s shadow government began selling shares of assets appropriated by SNR. General Min Aung Hlaing and other junta officials, analysts said.

On April 27, the junta’s deputy information minister, Major General Zaw Min Tun, told reporters at a press conference in the capital Naypyidaw that the sealed houses of detained militants had been “presented in court” and would be auctioned off. some time in the future.

When asked for clarification on Thursday, Zaw Min Tun told RFA’s Myanmar service that the junta had obtained court permission to proceed with the sales.

“You have to present evidence in accordance with legal process,” he said. “Once the court has ruled on the evidence, there are certain procedures to follow. At present, we have presented the necessary evidence.

The deputy minister did not provide any further details about the houses in question, including who they belonged to or what the previous owners are accused of.

Last week’s announcement came six days after National Unity Government (NUG) Finance and Investment Minister Tin Tun Naing informed RFA of his intention to sell a number of properties which , according to him, were identified by the shadow government as having been illegally occupied by senior junta officials when the military seized power in a coup on February 1, 2021.

Among the properties is the former Myanmar Army guesthouse and accompanying two-acre land at 14 Inya Road in Yangon, which now serves as the home of Min Aung Hlaing. Tin Tun Naing said the NUG plans to sell the estate for US$10 million – about a third of the property’s current value – in 100,000 shares of $100 each.

On Thursday, Tin Tun Naing provided additional details of the sale, which he said involves 100,000 shares of the domain priced at $100 each.

“Once we identified it as state property, we started selling it to facilitate the end of the dictatorship and raise the necessary funds for the success of the Spring Revolution, for the benefit of the people,” said Tin Tun Naing.

“As soon as it was announced that it would go on sale, there were several purchases. Only one person has already purchased shares worth US$100,000.

The NUG’s Ministry of Finance and Investment said the sale will involve around 400 acres of land occupied by junta officials in Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyidaw, which will be “confiscated and made available to the public in May. on a pre-purchase basis”. The sale assumes that the NUG will claim control of the country from the junta, in which case it will deliver the pledged asset.

Proceeds from the sale will be donated to the opposition movement and used to compensate victims of arrest and torture by the junta, rehabilitate members of the civil disobedience movement who left their jobs in the state to protest against the coup and help people whose homes were burned down in arson attacks. by junta forces, the ministry said.

The NUG said its plan to seize junta assets “is to discourage would-be dictators who want to abuse power from illegally seizing state-owned land and property in the future.”

“No legal right to confiscate”

Lawyers and political analysts told RFA that while the sale of the former military guesthouse involved returning public property to the people, the military has no legal right to confiscate and sell private property.

A spokesperson for the Thai Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP) called the junta’s announcement a form of “retaliation” against democracy and human rights activists, adding that many houses belong to people whose cases have not been judged by justice. law courts.

“The law does not allow the confiscation of property from innocent people,” they said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Some of the houses they sealed off didn’t even belong to the person they arrested. Today, we are also witnessing the confiscation of family properties. It’s a form of revenge.

High Court lawyer Kyee Myint, who assists in human rights cases, told RFA that the junta’s plan to sell off private properties is in violation of the law.

“I am very pleased that the NUG has announced that it will auction off the former military guesthouse on Inya Road, now taken over by Min Aung Hlaing. But how can it be legal for them to take revenge on us,” he asked.

“They are thieves. The courts are now under their control. The Chief Justice is a military officer. The judicial system of our country has been destroyed for a long time. It is a violation of the law to seize the property of ordinary politicians .

Well-known singer Chan Chan, who is facing an arrest warrant on charges of incitement, said in a May 1 post on her Facebook page that she had heard that the junta was preparing to sell his home in the port city of Thanlyin near Yangon and urged fans to protest.

Other properties seized by the junta belong to artists, anti-junta activists, members of the fallen National League for Democracy and paramilitaries of the Pro-Democracy People’s Defense Forces.

On May 3, authorities sealed off the family home of Myint Zaw Oo, an NLD MP in Kanbalu township, Sagaing region.

“They have no rules or laws. They just act blindly,” he said.

“They think we risk being demoralized if they do these things. It is perceived as a kind of psychological warfare. But we’ve already thought about the consequences of our actions, so it doesn’t matter if they seize our property or even burn it.

According to the AAPP, authorities have killed 1,825 civilians and arrested some 10,545 since February last year, mostly during peaceful protests against the junta. The group said the junta had confiscated more than 570 homes and buildings since the coup.

Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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