NLD Supporters Attacked in Naypyidaw

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MONDAY, 19 MARCH 2012

Several supporters of Burma’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) were attacked by rival supporters in Naypyidaw, according to a party statement on Monday.

The NLD said that their supporters were physically assaulted during a rally on Sunday for candidate Min Thu in the Burmese capital, and that a female security guard employed by the NLD was seriously injured after being attacked with sharpened sticks.

The attack allegedly occurred during a speech by Min Thu who is representing the NLD in the April 1 by-election for the Ottarathiri constituency seat in Naypyidaw.

“The NLD always opposes such violence,” said the statement.

Condemning the attack, the NLD said it had reported the incident to the respective police officials, and that such acts can damage the integrity of a free and fair election.

According to the NLD statement, there exists a policy of vote-buying in Min Kin Township in Sagaing Division. The NLD also condemned Dr. San Win, the candidate representing the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in Min Kin, saying that he had criticized NLD chairman Aung San Suu Kyi.

The NLD statement said all of these incidents are illegal and that they violate existing election laws.

The NLD also accused USDP members of forcefully ordering local residents in some villages in Sagaing to attend the USDP campaign gathering on Mar. 16.

USDP supporters also told local Chinese—who are Burmese citizens living in Lashio, northern Shan State—that they should not vote for the NLD as it is pro-Western, according to Soe Myint Maung, the NLD candidate for the city.

In a party rally at Lashio on Saturday, Suu Kyi reached out to ethnic Chinese and minority voters, and denied all the allegations made by the USDP supporters.

“I heard that Chinese businessmen and merchants were threatened,” Suu Kyi was quoted by AFP as saying. “They were told that their businesses would be harmed if the NLD wins the election, because Suu Kyi’s party enjoys close relations with Western countries.”

Suu Kyi continued: “I would like to request people to pass along the word that these things are not true.”

She told the assembled gathering, which included many Chinese and ethnic minorities, that her party was not out to destroy Chinese businesses.

Meanwhile, teachers and college students from Tenasserim Division in southern Burma claimed that they cannot cast their votes freely during the period of advance voting.

More than 70 teachers from Laung Lon in Tavoy District were allegedly called in front of the township educational administration office on March 17 and told that a training program would begin on March 23 and last until April 1, and that they would therefore have to vote in advance.

“They said that as we will not able to vote on April 1, we must vote now,” said one of the teachers. “Since we have to vote in front of the administrators and they have our names and addresses written on the envelopes, we wouldn’t dare vote for the NLD, only the USDP.”

At Educational College in Tavoy, about 50 students from Laung Lon and Kyun Su townships said they were also urged to vote in advance in the presence of the rector and other college heads.

“The rector called us to the library and told us to tick a ballot and seal the envelope with glue,” said a student. “There was nothing on the envelope, not even the seal of the Election Commission or the name of the polling center or the signature of the polling officer.”

Photo : Reuters

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