Mar 31, 2008 (DVB), While pro-democracy groups are urging people to boycott the upcoming referendum or vote No, the Burmese authorities have been pressuring people to vote Yes to the new constitution.
Residents of Arakan State said the military has been pressuring people to vote in favour in the May referendum.
Officers from the Western Command have been travelling around Manaung and An townships and intimidating people into voting in support of the constitution, according to a resident of Taungup township who has been monitoring the situation.
"A captain and three soldiers from the Western Command, who were fully armed and in uniform, arrived at Man Yon Taung Village Tract in An Township on 17 March and summoned villagers from six villages," the resident said.
"Each village had to send one representative to a meeting where they were told that a group would be set up to punish those who oppose the referendum," he said.
"They said that they only wanted to see Yes votes, otherwise all the villagers and their families and villages would pay for it."
The same resident said Union Solidarity and Development Association members and the local army unit have also been lobbying for votes in Taungup.
"USDA Organizer Soe Aung Tun and Maung Nyunt Win from the Village Peace and Development Council came to Myat Mon village in Taungup on 18 March," the resident said.
"They summoned students who had sat matriculation examinations and told them that any student who did not do well in the examinations should join the USDA and vote Yes in the referendum," he said.
"If they did that, they said the students would be guaranteed to pass the examinations."
The resident said Maung Nyunt Win also threatened to take action against anyone who voted No in the referendum.
Journalists and lawyers from Rangoon have also been speaking in favour of the referendum, the Taungup resident said.
"Lawyers from Rangoon came to Manaung and praised the SPDC’s constitution as the best Burma has seen and said that the people should vote in favour of it," the resident said.
"Han Thura, Than Oo, and Moe Moe Than from the so-called Journalists' Association came to Kyaukpyu. They have been going round villages lobbying people to vote in favour of the constitution."
Reporting by DVB