Myanmar military court sentences 28 people to long prison terms and hard labor for setting fire to Chinese-owned factory

A Burmese military court has sentenced 28 people to 20 years in prison and hard labor for arson attacks on two factories, according to official Burmese media. A series of mainly Chinese-invested factories were set on fire during riots in Yangon in March.

The Myawady news portal, run by the military, said the perpetrators targeted a shoe factory and a garment factory in the Ledaya industrial zone on the outskirts of Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon.

Burmese media and an activist group said authorities imposed martial law in the suburb after the blaze. Dozens of people were killed or injured when security forces opened fire on anti-military protesters.

The Chinese state-controlled Global Times reported in March that a total of 32 Chinese-owned factories were damaged in the attack, with property damage reaching $36.9 million (about 240 million yuan).

The Burmese army staged a coup on Feb. 1, overthrowing the democratically elected civilian government. The Chinese Communist Party is considered a supporter of the junta.

No organization has claimed responsibility for the burning of the factories. Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military took power and arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her political party, with daily protests, marches and strikes against the military government.

Security forces have responded with deadly force, killing more than 800 people, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an activist group. The military denies that figure, and coup leader Min Aung Hlaing recently said about 300 people, including 47 police officers, were killed in the unrest.

In addition to renewed clashes with ethnic armed groups in border areas, fighting has escalated between the Burmese army and opposing military, often extremely ill-equipped, militias in some areas.

Near the border with Shan (Shan) and Kayah states in eastern Burma, local residents and media reported that dozens of security forces and local militants have been killed in recent fighting.

A resident who took refuge near the town of Demoso (Demoso), where electricity was cut off, reported Friday that fighting erupted Thursday night with the sound of gunfire.

“We were afraid the bombs would hit us. They kept firing and it made me shiver,” said the resident, who asked not to be named.

Everyone has fled Demoso, she said, and more than 40,000 people are estimated to have taken refuge in the town’s surrounding areas, where they need food, clothing and shelter.