Militia leader denies forcing NLD members to resign at gunpoint

Militia leader denies forcing NLD members to resign at gunpoint

A Pa-O militia dismissed reports that the armed group forced members from the National League for Democracy (NLD) to resign at gunpoint last month during a press conference on Monday.

According to the NLD, 57 party members in Shan state’s Satthay village resigned after they were threatened by the militia. The opposition party also accused the armed group of surrounding its office in Mauksan village on 16 May.

However, the militias’ leader claims the NLD members rescinded their party membership on their own.

“We didn’t force them – they actually quit on their own accord – they were in the press conference today along with local village leaders and took questions from journalists,” said Colonel Khun La during an interview with DVB yesterday.

The militia leader added that his troops had not surrounded the NLD office in Mauksan but were on a routine patrol in area and had detained local villagers who had said ‘inappropriate’ things.

“It was only a guard patrol for security reasons. If we are to surround a house or an office, we’d go in the building afterward, but our troops didn’t even step foot inside the office’s interior,” said the militia leader.

“We only briefly detained the villagers and we immediately handed them back to their village administrators.”

However, the NLD’s district chair in Taunggyi, Tin Maung Toe, maintains that NLD members were tied up and forced to resign by the militia.

“They were tied up for two-three days and forced to sign resignation letters. We have filed a complaint concerning this [incident] to the Union Election Commission,” said Tin Maung Toe.

According to a local who attended the press conference on Monday, the individuals presented at the press event by the armed group were village leaders, not the NLD members who were forced to resign.

Both the NLD and the militia have said they would file separate complaints to the UEC regarding the incident.

The militia – formerly the PaO National Army – and the NLD are reportedly at odds after the political party began working with local farmers who are trying to reclaim land that had been confiscated by the armed group.

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