Locals coerced into joining USDA

Feb 19, 2008 (DVB), Residents of Hlaing Tharyar township in Rangoon have complained that the government-backed Union Solidarity and Development Association is forcing locals to join the organisation against their will.

U Tin Yu, a resident of Hlaing Tharyar township ward 8, said the local USDA group called ward residents together for a neighbourhood meeting last week to announce that a concrete road was to be built in the ward.

"Hlaing Tharyar ward 8’s USDA official Thant Sin called us into a meeting and said the association was going to build a concrete road in our ward," Tin Yu said.

"We were all happy until they told us we had to join the USDA in exchange for their efforts."

Tin Yu said people from other wards had also been forced to enrol in the USDA at similar meetings in their neighbourhoods.

Rangoon residents have speculated that the authorities' forced enrolment of people in the USDA could be in order to gain as many supporting votes as possible in the upcoming national referendum.

Reporting by Yee May Aung

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