False: These images do not show Myanmar soldiers setting Chinese-owned factories ablaze
A tweet on March 14 claimed members of Myanmar’s military were setting several Chinese-owned garment factories on fire. It included five images that purportedly show the acts of arson.
As of writing, the post has 115 likes and more than 240 retweets.
However, this claim is false. These images are from previous protests that occurred before March 14. Three of them have also been manipulated to suggest that the military hurled incendiary devices.
Image search led to this post by a Burmese activist dated from March 4, which reads “terrorists” are throwing tear gas canisters to “unarmed protesters.” It suggests the Myanmar military is behind the action.
Below is a comparison of the original image and the manipulated image.
The gray uniforms indicate the men are likely members of the police force, not the military, based on their color and the insignia on the upper right sleeves. The man in blue, who appears to be poised to throw what he is holding, wears a different uniform. The insignia on his shoulders suggests he is a police major.
In the image posted on March 4, the object held by the police major looks like a canister whereas in the manipulated image he is seen holding a green bottle.
The image below shows an anti-coup demonstration in the northwestern town of Kalay (also known as Kale) on March 2. The AFP photo appears to show the same event from a different angle.
AFP’s caption of this photo reads “A policeman (R) throws a projectile towards protesters during a demonstration against the military coup in the northwestern town of Kale on March 2, 2021”.
A comparison of the two images reveals that they feature the same individuals as the uniform, the urban camouflage-patterned helmets and the riot shields are all identical.
According to media reports, the burning of a Chinese-owned factory in Yangon indeed took place in Hlaing Thar Yar township on March 14. But the demonstration captured in these images took place more than 700 kilometers away in Kalay on March 2.
The other two images of men burning a pile of objects included in the misleading post date back to as early as March 5. A tweet from local journalist Mratt Kyaw Thu on the same date said the images showed police setting fire to barricades set up by protestors on Bargayar Road.
Below is a comparison of the images in the misleading tweet (left) and the photos in the journalist’s tweet (right).
A check on Google maps showed that Bargayar road, which is located at Bagaya St. is about 14 kilometers away from the location of Chinese-owned garment factories set on fire.
Annie Lab cannot independently verify the cause of the garment factory fires on March 14, but these images, some of which were posted as early as March 5, are unrelated to that event.
Meanwhile, some posts on Twitter and Facebook also use the same images to make another claim about Myanmar soldiers setting fire on Aung Zay Ya Bridge on March 14.
Annie Lab has found no news about the alleged arson on the bridge. A video by Burmese news site Irrawaddy shows police forces and members of the military shooting at protesters on the bridge on March 14 instead.