Election 2020

Myanmar Rights Groups Demand USDP Apology Over Disabled Voting Claims

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 16 November 2020

Yangon – More than 100 rights organizations in Myanmar have called for an apology from the military proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) for alleging electoral fraud involving people with disabilities.

In the Nov. 8 general election, the National League for Democracy won 920 out of 1,117 contested seats followed by the USDP with 71 seats.

The USDP has been complaining about the election results and called for a re-run, citing on electoral fraud.

The party alleged electoral fraud on Nov. 11 and claimed the election sub-commission in Kamma Township in Magwe Region allowed a citizen who was deaf and mute to vote.

A joint statement from 136 civil societies and human rights organizations on Nov. 14 said all people with disabilities have the right to vote under the 2015 Disabilities Law.

Article 27 of the law states that the Union Election Commission must provide assistance to ensure people with disabilities can vote.

The organizations condemned the USDP’s comments as discrimination and an attempt to prohibit people with disabilities from voting.

Ko Nay Lin Soe, a consultant at the Myanmar Independent Living Initiate, a disabled rights organization, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the USDP should apologize and explain its position on the voting rights of citizens with disabilities.

The party’s statement could confuse the public about the rights of people with disabilities, he said.

“[The USDP] should have learned the law, especially about citizen’s rights,” said Ko Nay Lin Soe.

“The right to vote of people with disabilities is not prohibited by any law. We were surprised by the USDP’s statement.”

The 2015 Disabilities Law carries a prison term of a year for anyone intentionally discriminating against or neglecting someone with a disability.

Recently, the USDP apologized to the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation over allegations of electoral fraud made at its press conference on Nov. 11.

The party accused some schoolteachers working at polling stations of being NLD supporters and biased.

However, the USDP is yet to reply to the joint statement about the rights of people with disabilities.

The Irrawaddy could not reach the party for a statement on Monday.

USDP spokesman U Thein Tun Oo separately told the media that typing errors had been made over the rights of people with disabilities when voting.

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