Maungdaw, Arakan State: Local military junta authorities in Maungdaw Township , Arakan State are ordering Rohingya girls over 18 to support the new constitutional referendum in May. The directive comes with threats not to cast a 'no' vote, said a local schoolteacher.
On April 2, the District Peace and Development Council (DPDC) Chairman called a meeting through the Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) chairmen and secretaries. They called girls from "Nwah Yon Taung" village tract, "Bag Gone Nah village tract", "Ay Tah Li Yahtilla village tract" of Maungdaw Township to VPDC office and the primary school of Nwar Yon Taung village tract for a meeting. All the girls of 18 and above had to be present at the meeting.
The DPDC chairman was absent from the meeting though other staff of the DPDC office attended. One of the officers from DPDC office explained to the girls how to vote in the referendum and that local authorities would observe them.
"The local authorities will check the ballots after the polling station is closed. If the authorities find those against the draft constitution, it will detain him or her to be interrogated instantly as to why he or she cast a 'no' vote, said one of the girls who attended the meeting.
Besides, the officer added that they would provide Identity (ID) cards to all the girls and youths who are 18-year old. After that the girls could move freely could live peacefully and there would be no marriage restrictions. But the girls have to promise to cast the 'yes' vote in the ensuing constitutional referendum. If they (girls) fail to keep the promise, in future, they would face many kinds of trouble.
In Burma , local authorities are busy urging people to renew ID cards and asking them to support the new constitutional referendum to be held in May 2008, sources said.
Burma's Chief Justice and Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission, Aung Toe, said the draft was drawn up with the objective of ensuring a leading role in politics for the military, which has always insisted that it alone can hold the country's many fragmented ethnic groups together.