Ousted Lawmaker Accuses Myanmar Junta of Defaming the NLD

By The Irrawaddy 3 December 2021

An ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmaker accused of having links to civilian resistance fighters arrested by the military regime has denied the claim, saying it is a junta smear against the NLD and its members.

The regime announced on Thursday that 33 men and women from Mandalay People Defense Force (PDF) groups were arrested with weapons and ammunition between November 3 and December 1.

A junta statement claimed that, based on interrogations of the captured PDF members, NLD lawmaker U Kyaw Soe Lin had arranged for them to undergo military training in an area controlled by the Kachin Independence Army, as well as transporting weapons to carry out attacks in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-biggest city.

U Kyaw Soe Lin, who was elected as the MP for Mandalay’s Pyigyitagon Township in the 2015 and 2020 general elections and is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s former chauffeur, rejected the accusations. The lawmaker is now in hiding.

The ousted MP told The Irrawaddy that he was not behind the bombings and assassinations, including of a regime administrator and alleged junta informants, he has been accused of.

“They [the junta] tried to defame me personally and the party. I am not even in contact with them at all,” he said, referring to the detained PDF members. U Kyaw Soe Lin also used his Facebook to deny his involvement.

There have been an increasing number of attacks on military regime targets in the past couple of months, mostly carried out by PDFs scattered across the country.

The junta has responded by labelling the PDFs as “terrorists” and making a series of arrests throughout the country. The regime claims that the detainees have confessed that they were acting under the instructions of ousted NLD lawmakers from the shadow National Unity Government and its parliamentarian wing the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, both of which have been outlawed by the regime.

Many of the NLD members arrested have since been charged under the Counter-Terrorism Law. Last month, former NLD lawmaker U Phyo Zeya Thaw was accused of masterminding 26 attacks against the regime in Yangon.

U Zaw Min Kyaw, the chief editor of online media Khit Yanant, said the junta wants to smear the NLD and is trying to portray the party as a terrorist group.

“[That’s why] they arrest NLD members claiming they have committed terrorist acts,” he said.

U Kyaw Soe Lin said that the junta’s attempt to link NLD members with the attacks is an effort to downplay the popular resistance against the regime.

“This is not the NLD’s revolution but a people’s movement,” he said.

Prior to becoming an MP, U Kyaw Soe Lin was Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s chauffeur in 2003 when her motorcade faced a vicious attack in Depayin Township, Sagaing Region from thugs employed by the former junta.

During the incident that would later become known as the Depayin Massacre, U Kyaw Soe Lin saved Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s life by driving away from the mob. However, the then military regime sentenced 17 people, including U Kyaw Soe Lin, to long prison terms.

U Kyaw Soe Lin became an MP after winning the Pyigyitagon Township seat in the 2015 general election that swept the NLD to power. He retained the seat in the 2020 poll that was subsequently overturned by the junta’s February 1 coup.

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