Election 2020

NLD and USDP Organizers to be Prosecuted for Ignoring Myanmar’s COVID-19 Restrictions

By Salai Thant Zin 19 October 2020

Pathein, Ayeyarwady Region — Pathein Township’s COVID-19 committee is taking legal action against the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) campaign organizers after rallies were held in Ayeyarwady Region’s capital in defiance of a coronavirus stay-at-home order.

On Saturday, around 10,000 NLD supporters gathered in Pathein and hundreds joined the USDP’s event ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.

As the rallies violated a Ministry of Health and Sports stay-at-home order, the township COVID-19 Control and Emergency Response Committee is preparing to take action against 10 campaign organizers from the parties.

Pathein administrator U Yarzar Aye, who chairs the COVID-19 committee, said: “We submitted the name list of campaign organizers to the regional government on Oct. 17. We will take legal action against them as it concerns public health.”

Around 10,000 NLD supporters, in cars, on bicycles, cycle rickshaws and dancing elephants, rallied around Pathein and nearby villages. The USDP event attracted fewer supporters.

The groups ignored the COVID-19 committee’s dispersal orders, prompting the legal action, said U Yarzar Aye.

Pathein police summoned the campaign organizers on Saturday and questioned them.

The NLD’s Pathein branch executive U Kyaw Htay said: “It is nothing to do with the party. It was not the party that organized the rally. People just went out of their own volition to show support. We asked village and ward branches not to join rallies because of the stay-at-home order. People joined of their own accord, not because anyone specific led the rally.”

Stay-at-home orders were issued on Sept. 25 in Pathein, Maubin and Pyapon townships.

U Tun Shwe, chairman of the NGO, the Pathein-based Delta Protectors Group, said: “The outbreak remains serious. The virus can transmit easily. I don’t deny that the election is important but it is dreadful to think what would happen if such a large crowd was infected. So people should not gather for any reason. The parties and administrative officials should supervise to prevent gatherings.”

Pathein has seen a second outbreak of COVID-19 since early September and there were 159 coronavirus cases on October 17, of which 151 have recovered and eight are still receiving treatment at Pathein Hospital.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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