On Nov. 8, citizens of Burma will head to polling stations nationwide for a general election that is hoped to be country’s freest and fairest in decades. More than 90 political parties are vying for seats in the state, division and national legislatures, representing a wide range of ethnicities, interests and opposition groups.
The campaign period, which began on Sept. 8, has been characterized by a diverse spread of candidates rallying all over the country and has, for the most part, been peaceful. But there have also been a number of unpleasant—and perhaps unlawful—incidents, particularly targeting the main opposition party, the National League for democracy (NLD). What follows is a timeline of reported incidents of harassment, assault or other misconduct perpetrated against the NLD, the opposition party chaired by Aung San Suu Kyi.
This timeline will be updated daily as events unfold.
Oct. 29—Naing Ngan Lin, a sitting NLD lawmaker representing Naypyidaw’s Dekkhinathiri Township, sustained head and hand injuries after an attack by a group of men, at least one of whom was armed with a sword. The lawmaker and two other party members, including a woman, were taken to Rangoon General Hospital.
Oct. 21—An NLD “electoral victory team” in Irrawaddy Division’s Maubin Township was assaulted by a village development support group chairman, according to Daily Eleven.
A week after NLD candidates were reportedly attacked by a villager in Pyawbwe, Mandalay Division, a number of the party’s members came under slingshot attack after a visit to the same village.
NLD campaign trucks were prevented from passing though the civil servant quarters of the mann oil field in Magwe Division’s Minbu Township, the constituency where divisional Chief Minister Phone Maw Shwe is contesting a seat for the regional parilement. The trucks were later allowed passage through the area.
Also on Oct. 21, an NLD campaign manager was assaulted by a counterpart representing the USDP in Irrawaddy Division.
Oct. 20—Locals sighted at least two large, vinyl posters in Mandalay picturing Suu Kyi and referencing her marriage to British academic Michael Aris in ways that were viewed by the NLD as defamatory.
Oct. 18—A number of Burmese dailies reported that several NLD candidates came under slingshot attack and were hit by a motorbike in Naypyidaw’s Dekkhinathiri Township. Three opposition candidates were reportedly injured in the attack.
Oct. 17—A USDP secretary in Irrawaddy Division’s Kangyidaunt Township was sued by a local activist after being accused of sharing on Facebook a digitally altered photo of Suu Kyi’s face on the body of a naked woman.
Oct. 14—NLD candidate Phyo Zeyar Thaw was denied access for a door to door campaign in civil servants’ quarters in Naypyidaw’s Zabuthiri Township.
That same day, a number of NLD candidates were reportedly attacked by a villager in Mandalay’s Pyawbwe Township.
In neighboring Sagaing Division, photos of Suu Kyi were spotted on lampposts accompanied by text claiming that a Suu Kyi presidency—which is prohibited by the Constitution—would threaten the country’s Buddhist identity, according to Daily Eleven.
Oct. 13—Two men applied for permission to protest against a Suu Kyi rally in Thandwe, Arakan State, but later withdrew the request because of opposition from local community and religious leaders. Both of the men were from other parts of the state, and viewed by local authorities as outsiders.
Oct. 12—Following the reversal of an order for the NLD not to campaign in parts of Kachin State controlled by Zakhung Ting Ying, a number of Burmese daily papers reported that NLD members were assaulted and threatened by his NDAK militia in Chipwi Township.
NLD candidates attempting to campaign in Magwe Division’s Myaing Township were reportedly interrupted by about 20 USDP members and prevented from entering.
Oct. 10—The Rangoon Division government approved a flight to Coco Island for NLD candidates contesting the remote constituency, but the military forbade them from making the trip because the aircraft was military property.
Further north, in Magwe Division’s Chauk Township, an unknown assailant shot a beehive near an NLD rally, which had to be stopped when a number of attendees were stung by the angered insects.
And in the former capital, USDP central committee member and current vice speaker of Upper House Mya Nyein said during a rally that Rangoon would soon “be covered with green, not with red.” The statement, which forecasts a USDP victory, was viewed as an allusion both to the NLD and to the 1983 bombing of the Martyr’s Mausoleum in Rangoon.
Oct. 9—The NLD was notified by the Pandaung Township election commission in Pegu Division that it would not be allowed to pass through military-administered areas.
The same day, actor Lu Min, chairman of the Myanmar Motion Picture Association, was warned by a number of other high profile artists against producing a short film titled “Time to Change,” which urged viewers to vote for the NLD.
Oct. 5—Newly appointed USDP acting chairman Htay Oo made waves with controversial remarks about Suu Kyi at a rally in Hinthada Township, Irrawaddy Division. “Mr. [US President Barack] Obama came [to Burma] two times. What happened when he came twice? Someone was kissed twice,” Htay Oo said, referring to the opposition leader. The remarks were viewed by many as a slight, drawing on anti-foreign sentiment and calling Suu Kyi’s moral standing into question.
A similar statement was made by a local administrator on Haigyi Island, who called Suu Kyi a “traitor of the race who married an English man.” The administrator was later sued by the local chapter of the NLD, but the status of the case is unknown.
Oct. 4—NLD members attempting to distribute voter education materials in Irrawaddy Division’s Yegyi Township were reportedly thwarted by a USDP campaign coordinator. The local election sub-commission later requested that the NLD members issue an apology to the local USDP.
Sept. 30—Police in the Kachin State capital Myitkyina locked the gates of the Manaw festival grounds, where Aung San Suu Kyi had requested to hold an NLD rally. The event was allowed to proceed, but at a smaller venue further down the road.
Sept. 29—An NLD member coordinating a rally in Magwe Division’s Kamma Township was threatened at knifepoint to stop the event by a USDP member, according to a report in Daily Eleven on Oct. 4.
Sept. 23—A number of local daily papers reported that an NLD member who participated in a rally in Myaungmya was assaulted by three unknown individuals. He was later found unconscious in a graveyard with serious injuries from which he is now recovering.
Sept. 22—An NLD rally in Sagaing Division’s Salingyi Township was cancelled after being disrupted by a member of the local USDP, the Standard Times reported on Oct. 24.
On the same day, further north in Kachin State, a government-affiliated militia—New Democratic Army–Kachin (NDAK)—ordered NLD candidates not to campaign in his constituency. The militia leader, Zakhung Ting Ying, is a sitting lawmaker for the Upper House of Parliament. He later reversed the directive.
Sept. 10—Naypyidaw’s Dekkhinathiri Township USDP joint secretary, Zaw Weik, was accused of distributing pamphlets titled “To monks and people who love race and religion,” which were deemed by the opposition as defamatory and manipulative in light of the rise of Burma’s Buddhist nationalist movement—known as Ma Ba Tha. The group has been accused of portraying the NLD as biased in favor of Muslims.
Aug. 20, 2015—The home of a village-level NLD chairman in Myaungmya Township in Irrawaddy Division was trespassed and vandalized by a person alleged to be affiliated with the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), as reported by Daily Eleven on Aug. 27.
Research compiled by Thet Ko Ko and Wai Yan Aung.