Monday, 23 April 2018

Maungdaw, Arakan State: Supporters of the government-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) destroyed a campaign billboard and threatened members of the rival National Democratic Party for Development(NDPD), according to an election watchdog group in Maungdaw.

The watchdog group said USDP supporters led by party organizer Syed Ullah, a former member of the Burma Socialist Program Party, tore down an NDPD billboard erected earlier this month in Aleythankyaw village.

Residents of Aleythankyaw were also threatened by USDP supporters and warned that they could come to harm if they supported the NDPD in upcoming elections scheduled for November 7, the watchdog group added.

Authorities in Aleythankyaw investigated the incident after NDPD officials filed a complaint, and they determined that Syed Ullah had instigated the attack on the billboard.

Syed Ullah and seven other persons were arrested and detained at the office of the Burma border security force (Nasaka)’s section Commander Major Thurin Zaw, said a Nasaka office aide who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The aide added, however, that the detained men were later freed after USDP candidate Aung Zaw Win visited the prisoners and signed a bond for their release.

Reports emerged last week of other acts of intimidation by USDP members and supporters.

A USDP organizer identified as Fayas Ahmed reportedly warned Soe Naing Lay, the owner of Sky View Guesthouse in Maungdaw that his support of the NDPD could lead to the loss of his business, said a member of the business community in Maungdaw who asked not to be named.

In Kyikanpyin village, a local elder said that the USDP treasurer told residents that they would face many kinds of harassment from authorities that could affect the future development of their village if they supported the NDPD.

In Ducheeyartan village, the USDP organizer and supporter, Azimullah who regularly threatened the Rohingya community, told residents that their village would relocate if they supported the NDPD, according to a teacher from Maungdaw. “But, the villagers replied that send them to Naf River which is near the village, will not support the USDP.”

Residents across Arakan State have reported that USDP candidates and supporters have regularly threatened the Rohingya community, which had hoped that the forthcoming elections would help to curb years of oppression at the hands of Burma’s ruling junta.

“How will the party give satisfaction and provide protection to the people if they support them and they win the election?” asked the village elder.