Myanmar’s NLD Again Calls on Arakan Army to Release Three Abducted Ex-Candidates

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 30 December 2020

YANGON—The ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) on Tuesday called for the immediate release of three former candidates of the party who were abducted in Rakhine State by the Arakan Army (AA) during the election campaign period before November’s general election.

It has been two and a half months since the three candidates—Daw Chit Chit Chaw, Daw Ni Ni May Myint and U Min Aung—who stood for seats representing Taungup in the Lower House, Upper House and Rakhine State parliament, respectively, were abducted in the township’s Hpaung Kha Village on Oct. 14 while campaigning.

U Tin Thein Aung, the chair of the NLD’s Taungup Township branch, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that neither the party nor the families of the three candidates have been able to contact them so far.

He expressed concern about the wellbeing of the three and called on the AA to release them immediately.

The NLD said in a statement on Dec. 29 that the party has been given a mandate by the general election to build the country. Since Nov. 12, it has sought better working relations with the ethnic parties in order to advance the establishment of a federal democratic union.

The party said it had received replies from the Rakhine National Party and the Asho Chin National Party.

Now is a good time to work on establishing a federal democratic union and the AA should not miss out on participating in the opportunity, the NLD said.

It told the AA that releasing the three detainees would facilitate the process of building a future federal democratic union.

This is the third time the NLD has called for the release of its three candidates.

The party issued similar calls on Oct. 17 and Oct. 21.

The AA said in a statement on Oct. 19 that it would not release the candidates until the government freed all ethnic politicians and civilians arrested for affiliation with the AA and student protesters detained for demanding peace.

Following the detention of the three candidates in October, the embassies of the US and France condemned the abductions and called for the immediate release of the trio. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) has also called for their release.

In the 2020 general election, the three candidates lost their races, though Taungup Township was an NLD stronghold in the 2015 election.

In November last year, U Whei Tin, an NLD Upper House lawmaker for Paletwa in Chin State, was abducted by the AA, which alleged that he had provided government troops with intelligence. The lawmaker was released in January after a 79-day detention.

In December, the chief of the NLD’s Buthidaung Township office in Rakhine State died while in AA custody.

In February, an executive committee member of the NLD’s Yanbye Township branch who also serves as its treasurer was abducted by unidentified armed people. He was released in June.

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