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Exiled lawyers call for abolishment of USDA

Apr 1, 2009 (DVB), A government-backed social organization alleged to have been implicated in the 2003 Depayin massacre is fast becoming a political party and must be abolished, said an exiled Burmese lawyers group.

The Union Solidarity and Development Association, which was formed in 1993 by the former State Law and Order Restoration Council government, is made up of army members, police and civil servants.

A statement released yesterday by the Burmese Lawyers Council said that the USDA's affiliations with members of the military government and its own comments on transforming into a political party violated the Unlawful Associations Act as set out by the government.

The Unlawful Associations Act is often used as a charge under which to sentence members of opposition parties.

"According to regulation regarding non-involvement in politics by government employees, government workers are not allowed to take part in any political party," said the statement.

"The USDA is in open violation of these laws and thus should be given no chance to stand as a legal political party."

Furthermore, the USDA's documented role in abuses against Burmese citizens, including the infamous 2003 Depayin massacre in which hundreds of opposition party supporters were killed, contravened Burmese law as stated by the government itself.

"The international community knows that the USDA was implicated in the attacks in Bahan and the Depayin massacre," said U Myo, an official from the BLC.

The ruling State Peace and Development Council claim there are more than 20 million USDA members. The head of the SPDC, Senior General Than Shwe, is one of the organisation's patrons.

In the past reports have surfaced of students and civil servants being forced under threat to join the organisation.

"The government should show respect of the law by abolishing the USDA," the statement said.

Reporting by Aye Nai


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