Many residents of Ayadaw Township in Sagaing Division claim they were forcibly recruited for the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) by local civil servants when they applied for citizen identification cards.
Several Ayadaw locals told DVB they were “duped” by local authorities who issued them USDP membership cards when they only applied for citizenship IDs.
“I applied for an ID card, but the officials presented me with a USDP membership – they insisted I keep the card even when I tried to give it back to them,” said Thawka Aung, who said he unwittingly became a member of the USDP, along with about 30 other people in his village who had the same experience.
On 11 January, the opposition National League for Democracy local supporters demanded action be taken against the local government staff who were involved and the USDP. The NLD’s Township Information Coordinator Zaw Win said 167 villagers in the area had come forward with claims that they had been forcibly recruited to the USDP.
“The villagers claimed they never applied for USDP membership and that the signatures on the cards were forged,” said Zaw Win. “We would like to know why the local authorities did this – and whether they were ordered to do so.”
Khin Maung Thein, the township chairman of the NLD in Ayadaw, said residents in about half of all villages in the township have reported similar experiences with authorities coercing them to accept USDP membership cards or else forfeit the chance to apply for citizenship ID cards.