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Sep 30, 2007 (DVB)-Burmese authorities were yesterday forcing local residents to join mass pro-government rallies to show their support for the newly-completed National Convention, according to local sources.
Despite the ongoing public demonstrations against the regime, local authorities in Myitkyina and other townships in central Burma coerced residents into joining the rallies organised by the government-backed Union Solidarity and Development Association.
A resident of Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state in northern Burma, told DVB that authorities demanded that two people from each household join a mass rally held early yesterday morning in Myitkyina stadium to show support for the National Convention.
"We were warned that we would be punished if we didn’t come to the rally. So we attended it because we were afraid," said the resident.
Other sources in Myitkyina said the rally, which was organized by local USDA officials under the direction of general Ohn Mya, commander of the northern states’ military headquarters, was attended by 1,200 high-school students, 250 teachers and about 30,000 civilians.
A teacher who was at the rally said that a few USDA members gave speeches, mostly criticising the recent public protests staged by monks and civilians in different parts of Burma.
"I wasn’t really interested in what they were talking about. I wasn’t really listening – I was only attending it because I was forced to. It was the same for most of the people who were there," said the teacher.
The Burmese government’s national broadcaster MRTV also reported yesterday on another mass rally staged in central Burma’s Taung Tha township in Mandalay division.
Reporting by Naw Noreen