Ministry Denies Evicting Disabled Woman over Student Protests

By Nobel Zaw 1 April 2015

RANGOON — The government has denied widespread reports in Burmese language media that disability advocate Su Pon Chit was evicted from her government-owned apartment as a result of her involvement in recent student protests.

The 25-year-old, who was born without arms and only has limited use of her legs, was recently evicted from an apartment belonging to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, where she has resided for 10 years.

Thin Thin Nwe, director of the Department of Social Welfare, told the government-owned Mirror newspaper that Su Pon Chit had first received notice to move from her residence in Dec. 8, more than a month before the recent round of student protests began.

“We informed her before the student protests in February, so the claim we evicted her for her involvement in the protests is totally irrelevant,” she said, adding that a recent increase in staff required the ministry to evict tenants in order to provide accommodation for its employees.

Su Pon Chit relinquished control of her apartment at the end of March, during exams for her masters program. After receiving a postgraduate degree in public policy at the University of New South Wales in Australia, she had returned to Rangoon to attend the Rangoon Technical University in Hlaing Thar Yar. She now faces the prospect of commuting to campus from her home village of Nyaungdon, 63 kilometers (39 miles) away.

“I don’t know exactly the reasons for removing me from my apartment,” she told The Irrawaddy. “I appealed the decision to the upper levels of the government but did not receive any response.”

The Mirror report also featured a reminder to journalists about their professional and legal obligations to be accurate.