Election 2020

Three Ruling Party Candidates Abducted by Armed Men in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

By Min Aung Khine 14 October 2020

SITTWE, Rakhine State—Three candidates from the National League for Democracy (NLD) were abducted by unidentified armed men while campaigning in Rakhine State’s Taungup Township on Wednesday.

The three are Daw Ni Ni May Myint, who is running for a Lower House seat; Daw Chit Chit Chaw, who is running for an Upper House seat; and U Min Aung, who is running for a seat in the Rakhine State parliament.

An NLD member from Taungup Township told The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity, “They were abducted at around 9 a.m. today [Wednesday] while they were on their way to Phaung Kha Village to campaign. This is all we know so far. We still haven’t been able to contact those who accompanied the candidates. I heard they are in hiding out of fear.”

NLD spokesman Dr. Myo Nyunt confirmed the abduction of the three party candidates in Taungup. “They were heading to Phaung Kha Village to campaign. A group of unknown men with weapons arrived and abducted them before noon. They were taken by boat to Yanbye. That’s all we know,” Dr. Myo Nyunt told The Irrawaddy.

“I don’t want to speculate [about which group abducted them]. It is unacceptable for any group to arrest party members engaged in official campaign activities. Doing so will negatively affect public trust in them. It would be best for them to release the candidates if they want to solve ethnic and domestic issues,” he added.

The Taungup Police Station chief, Police Major Than Naing, said police were actively searching for the three abducted candidates.

“We are taking real-time action. As to what actions we are taking, we can’t reveal that because it is a security matter,” he said.

Wednesday’s abduction was the third involving NLD members since late last year.

In November last year, U Whei Tin, an NLD Upper House lawmaker for Paletwa in Chin State, was kidnapped. At the time, the Arakan Army—an ethnic Rakhine armed group currently warring with the central government for autonomy in the region—claimed responsibility for the lawmaker’s abduction, alleging he provided government troops with intelligence. He was released in January after a 79-day detention.

In December, a local NLD chief in Rakhine’s Buthidaung Township office died while in AA custody. He had been abducted after organizing a rally in support of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s defense of Myanmar at the International Court of Justice against a genocide case brought by The Gambia. The AA claimed U Ye Thein was killed by a military strike while being detained, but the Myanmar military denied the claim. And early this year, U Zeyar Min, an executive committee member and treasurer of the NLD’s Yanbye Township chapter, was abducted by unidentified armed people in February. He was released in June.

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