RANGOON — The Union Election Commission has agreed to meet with the National League for Democracy (NLD) amid a spate of alleged election law violations as the campaign season enters its fourth week, with Burma’s main opposition party seeking greater accountability from the polling regulator.
NLD spokesman Nyan Win told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that the Naypyidaw-based commission had agreed to meet over the issue, though no date has been set.
The party of Aung San Suu Kyi had requested the sit-down after three weeks of campaigning in which it claims to have faced nearly 10 cases of actionable offenses on the campaign trail, almost none of which had yet been resolved by electoral or law enforcement authorities.
“The worst situation happened in Myaungmya Township, [Irrawaddy Division]; a young man was beaten on his way back to the village after a [NLD] candidate’s campaign,” said Win Myint, an NLD central committee member, adding that the man was knocked out and his unconscious body was found dumped in a graveyard.
Soe Moe Thu, the NLD Lower House candidate for Myaungmya constituency whose rally the beating victim had attended, claimed police had arrested three men in connection with the Sept. 23 incident, but the men were later released released on bail.
Zaw Win, a 45-year-old NLD candidate contesting the Nov. 8 poll for a seat in the Magwe Division parliament, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that the day prior he was threatened by a machete-wielding villager who shouted for him to call off a campaign rally at Pyaung Kya village in the division’s Kamma Township. Zaw Win said he had lodged a complaint with the Kamma Township police station and, in what has been a rare occurrence for the party, the man was detained by police the next day.
Kamma Township police confirmed on Wednesday that legal action would be taken against the offender.
But another NLD complaint that has yet to be addressed by authorities at any level is the continued circulation of pamphlets in several states and divisions urging voters not to support the party on the grounds that its members do not have Buddhism’s best interests at heart. The NLD has accused the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, a Buddhist nationalist group better known by its Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha, of being behind the pamphlets’ distribution.
On Tuesday, Tin Aung Lwin a resident of Myauk Kha Yan village, which is part of Gangaw District, said about a week earlier trustees of the village monastery had distributed hundreds of the pamphlets on Uposatha, a Buddhist day of observance.
The handout, a photo of which was forwarded electronically to The Irrawaddy, is identical to a copy of a pamphlet obtained by this news outlet last week. NLD central committee member Win Htein told reporters last week that party branches in several states and divisions had reported that such pamphlets were being circulated.
The text urges the public not to support the “big group that is against nationalism,” later referring explicitly to Suu Kyi’s party, the NLD.
“[The big group] focuses on the human rights of other religious groups, only pointing out corruption of the government, the country’s poverty and the National Education Law. It is trying to canvass the public with the photo of patriotic leader General Aung San,” the pamphlet reads.
“‘The party’s leader is the daughter of General Aung San,’ and unexpected risks will be posed to the [Buddhist] religion and the country [if the party is elected].”
Phone calls to the election subcommissions in Gangaw, Myaungmya and Kamma broadly yielded the same response, with all three officials claiming that they had not received an official complaint from the NLD.
Nyan Win said he did not know how many of the grievances aired by the party to date were filed through official channels.
Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously reported that Soe Moe Thu told The Irrawaddy the three men detained in connection with the assault on an NLD supporter in Myaungmya Township were released without being charged. They were in fact released on bail, as detailed in this follow-up.