A National League for Democracy member in Burma’s central Mon state is in hospital after being attacked by a local militia-type organisation, allegedly on the orders of two Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) members.
Chit Tin, an member of the opposition party’s Yay town wing, sustained injuries to the head after being attacked on 3 April whilst watching football on television in a teashop in Yay. Chit Tin alleges that the attacker was a member of government-proxy Swan Arr Shin group.
“I was watching a football match at the teashop and someone hit me with a stool from behind,” said Chit Tin. “The attackers name is Htay Aung; he’s a Swan Arr Shin member. I immediately went to the local authorities and filed a charge but they told me to go to the police instead so I went. The attacker went gone into hiding after the charge was made.”
He added that the order was handed down by Ngwe Aung and Myat Moe, two local members of the USDA, a government backed social organisation.
“I’m a township-level NLD executive and those men are also township-level USDA members,” he said. “They went to the police station later and paid the police 1.2 million kyat [$US1,200] to close my case. I knew that they were USDA and they knew I was NLD; we live in the same village.”
Chit Tin remains in Rangoon hospital, one month after the attack took place. Both the Yay police station and local USDA office were unavailable for comments.
Attacks such as these on NLD members are nothing news; last year police refused to arrest a mob of people apparently led by a government official who beat two party members. while in January 2009 several family members of an assaulted NLD member were imprisoned after a supposed retaliation against the assailants, although no eye-witnesses could verify the incident.
The NLD, which was formed in the aftermath of the 1988 uprising and went on to become Burma’s principal opposition party, today marks its official termination as a political party following its refusal to run in elections this year.
Senior NLD members have said that the party will transform into a social organisation and work directly with Burmese people; decades of harassment and intimidation by the ruling junta in Burma have prevented it from gaining any leverage in Burmese politics.
As the elections near, a myriad of other parties, many belonging to the ‘third force’ in Burmese politics – allied to neither the opposition nor the government – have formed and register for the polls.
One of these groups, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), is headed by the Burmese prime minister, Thein Sein, although as yet there is no concrete link between the USDP and USDA.