Forged Statements From NLD, President Criticize Letpadaung Protesters

By Nobel Zaw 24 December 2014

RANGOON — Representatives of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the office of President Thein Sein have refuted the authenticity of two statements which attacked the motives of villagers protesting the Letpadaung copper mining project.

A statement purportedly signed by the President said that the Chinese firm Myanmar Wanbao Mining Copper Ltd., one of the Letpadaung project’s joint venture partners, acted within the law by fencing work sites, and accused farmers of behaving unlawfully, justifying a police response which resulted in the death of 56-year-old villager Khin Win and injury to several others.

The statement said that farmers connected with Khin Win and other protestors would be charged for their “criminal activity” and concluded with an effusive apology to Wanbao and the People’s Republic of China.

The NLD statement, complete with the party’s letterhead and seal, criticized farmers for opposing government policies, and urged for farmers involved in the land dispute and protest ringleaders to be charged. Both forgeries were widely circulated over social media on Monday.

Zaw Htay, director of the President’s office, and the NLD both took to Facebook on Tuesday to announce both statements were fake. Nyan Win, a spokesman for the NLD, said that the party was still discussing the faked letter and formulating an appropriate response.

“We are still finding out about the extent of that problem,” he told The Irrawaddy. “We are solving that problem with the committee so we can’t say anything now. If it is necessary we will issue a statement.”

This is the second time that the NLD has been the victim of a forged official statement. In the aftermath of religious riots in Mandalay last July, an anonymous social media user published a statement with the party’s logo and letterhead, stating that the NLD was “fully backing the Muslims” and would support efforts to prosecute Buddhist rioters, in an attempt to discredit the party.

Lawyer Kyee Myint told The Irrawaddy that the creator of the false statements faced a harsh punishment if caught.

“If the person who distributed the fake statements is revealed, he or she can be sentenced under Article 468 of the Penal Code with seven years’ imprisonment,” he said.