RANGOON — Prominent women’s rights activist and National League for Democracy (NLD) candidate Susanna Hla Hla Soe says she is concerned for her safety after her supporters were assaulted following a campaign rally in northern Rangoon.
Hla Hla Soe, the founder of the Karen Women’s Action Group and candidate for the Upper House seat of Rangoon-10, said she had been warned of potential violence at a recent campaign rally, while other opposition party members in the area had been attacked.
‘‘Two weeks ago, information was spread among our supporters that somebody would try to attack me with a slingshot, so we had to move the rally date,” she told The Irrawaddy on Saturday. “It’s really dangerous for us and I feel unsafe.”
On Sept. 19, following another campaign event held for Hla Hla Soe in Mingaladon’s Nwe Khway village, local NLD communications officer Zaw Oo was assaulted outside a shopfront in the area. Speaking at a Saturday media conference, Zaw Oo returned home and gave news of the affray to his two sons, aged 25 and 19, who returned to the shopfront to search for the offender. Both men were stabbed and required medical attention in the ensuing confrontation.
While Zaw Oo’s family said they were unable to state whether the violence was result of his political affiliation, Hla Hla Soe said that the attacker had been seen at several of her campaign rallies.
“He was not apprehended even though the police know who he is,” she said. “My security team has seen him [at several of my rallies].”
Win Myint, a member of the NLD’s central executive committee, told The Irrawaddy that more than 15 cases of physical attacks against party supporters had now been recorded during the campaign period. The Union Election Commission has agreed to meet with the party to discuss the incidents, but has yet to set a date.
Among the recent instances, a party member in the Irrawaddy Delta township of Maungmya was attacked by the head of a village UEC office on Sept. 22, according to local NLD candidate Thant Zaw Win. The following day, a man returning from an NLD campaign rally in the same township was knocked unconscious and later found in a graveyard.