Thursday, 21 September 2017

Maungdaw, Arakan State: Residents in Maungdaw in western Burma say they are being instructed to vote only for candidates of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) by high-ranking officials of the Burma border security force Nasaka.

The deputy director of Nasaka headquarters in Kyi Kann Pyin (Kawar Bill) in Maungdaw Township traveled to Bautkar Gonanah (Kholiza Bangaar) village on November 1 for a meeting with local village leaders and elders as well the chairmen and members of the Village Peace and Development Councils (VPDC)

He reportedly asked those in attendance to urge villagers to vote for the USDP candidates, who were well-skilled at administration and were top intellectuals, according to a village authority present at the meeting.

“Similarly, Aung Kyaw Oo, chairman of the Township Peace and Development Council (TPDC, and Htun Naing Linn, chairman of the District Peace and Development Council (DPDC) urged Myo Thugyi village authority officials to persuade voters to support the USDP or face future trouble,” the village authority said.

The deputy director added that it was not appropriate for high officials to say such things directly to voters, so it was the job of village leaders to warn residents what could happen if they don’t support the USDP.

Local villagers said they are now afraid of supporting the candidates they prefer in the November 7 election and that they would not be able to vote freely.

Suspicion has fallen on USDP candidate Aung Zaw Win, who some believe arranged the meeting by authority of his close ties to powerful military officers within Burma’s ruling junta.

However, a local politician dismissed such speculation as whispering among the people.

Scattered election-related violence has also been reported. On November 1, two students from Kyauk Hlaikhar (Dargadil) village were severely beaten by Syed Alam, a man identified as a collaborator of Nasaka for wearing T-shirts with the NDPD party logo, according to a Nasaka aide who spoke on condition of anonymity.