Conspiracies rage over CNN visit after military-owned Yangon malls go up in flames

Photo: Kyaw Thuya Aye / Facebook
Photo: Kyaw Thuya Aye / Facebook

In the dead of night, while Yangon was under curfew, two military-owned markets were destroyed by fire early this morning.

Flames destroyed much of the Ruby Mart department store downtown on 37th Street, while witnesses said little remained of the Gandamar Wholesale in Mayangone Township after fires broke out there at about 2am this morning.

Though both army-owned stores were targeted by boycotts, the fires fueled rumors that the military had burned its own stores to damage the image of the protest movement to a visiting American television crew. Despite no clear evidence of that, deep distrust further hardened suspicions with reports that soldiers shot people trying to put out the blaze before the CNN crew was led there later in the morning.

There’s been widespread discussion on social media that the authorities are attempting to manipulate the crew for the U.S. cable network that visited Yangon under heavy military guard.

“Nobody dares to go out at night due to the curfew except military and the police. They set this up on purpose for CNN,” widely followed Facebook account Sar Mal wrote.

The fire at Gandamar Wholesale, located at the corner of Gandamar and Waizayantar roads, started at about 1:30am and reportedly wasn’t brought under control until about 7:30am, at which point little remained but a burned-out shell, according to images taken at the scene.


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