Opposition party claims harassment in Shan State

In this file photo from March 2013, Aung San Suu Kyi gives a speech at the NLD congress in Rangoon. (Reuters)
An office of Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), was told to remove party signage from their property or face retaliation, according to NLD officials.

Aik Ti, NLD information officer for Loilam district, told DVB that a man came to the party’s office in Kyae Thee, southern Shan State, on 9 June to relay a message from the village tract headman that the signage must be immediately removed or the property would be burned down and the owner killed.

Local authorities could not be reached for comment.

“He said to take down the sign, and he said ‘we will burn down your house and kill you’ if we don’t obey,” Aik Ti said. “The owner of the building was afraid and ran to the district office. We told him not to sacrifice his life. We told him that if they come and take down the sign, he should let them do it.”

Officials told him not to remove the signage himself, but not to interfere if someone came to take it down.

Shan State NLD chairperson Khin Moe Moe offered a similar account: “I told them that, if possible, they should ask the headman to provide a written letter explaining why the sign must be removed. If they don’t do that and they take down the sign, I told them to take pictures. We cannot tell our members to sacrifice their lives.

“The area is remote and lawless, so I told them to take care for their security,” she said.

The sign was erected in January of this year, shortly after Aung San Suu Kyi visited the Shan State capital, Taunggyi, as part of a highly anticipated trip that was mired in obstacles.

Shan State has been a particularly hostile environment for the NLD; in early June, a village chairman for the party was abducted from his home in Hopong Township and killed by unknown gunmen. The culprits and motivation for the crime are still unknown.

A year prior, more than 50 NLD party members were allegedly forced to resign at gunpoint following a land dispute with a local militia.

By SHWE AUNG (DVB)

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