Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ethnic Arakanese party leaders’ families harassed

Tuesday, 24 August 2010 03:12 Khaing Suu

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Police have been harassing relatives of registered ethnic Arakanese party leaders and stepped up monitoring of the party’s offices, over which it has complained to state and national electoral watchdogs, the party’s secretary said.

The Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) party serving the main ethnic minority of Arakan State in western Burma sent letters of complaint to junta electoral watchdog Union Election Commission (UEC) and its state branch office on Friday to complain that party leaders’s family had been questioned by local, Special Branch, and anti-crime police since early August, party secretary Khine Pyi Soe told Mizzima.

“My relatives [have since] warned me not to do politics because they felt afraid as the result of interrogation. In doing this [questioning], people are paralysed by fear. It’s a serious threat to people to be party members and support the party”, he said.

In early August, the secretary of Sittwe (the state capital) branch of the RNDP, Aung Mya Kyaw, was also questioned by police and anti-crime police and his brother from Maungdaw Township, was interrogated by Special Branch police. Khine Pyi Soe’s sister of Thitpoaktaung village, Minpya Township, and her brother, were also taken in to the Special Branch office for questioning.

Moreover, Special Branch officers had since July 27 been monitoring the party by taking photos of party statements and slogans on the notice board of party headquarters in Sittwe, so the party sent a letter of complaint to the electoral commission. The day after the letter was sent it was raining, so the notice board was kept in the office, but the authorities entered the office to take the photos of statements and slogans, the party said.

“At first, only Special Branch officers took the photos, but later a joint force of anti-crime and local police came … the situation was chaotic”, Khine Pyi Soe said.

Moreover, the Arakan State electoral commission on August 11 warned the party that if it continued to issue statements that contained “wrong information” over the legal case of Abbot Ashin Pyinnyar Sara, who founded an orphanage in his monastery in Sittwe, the party would be dissolved.

Ashin Pyinnyar Sara was arrested on July 27 and accused of having sexual relations and other crimes, appeared in Sittwe District Court on Wednesday to hear evidence against him, local sources said.

The abbot is detained in Sittwe Prison on charges alleging breaches under section 420 (fraud), section 292 (handling obscene materials) and 295 (defiling a place of worship) for insulting religion, section 406 (criminal breach of trust), section 505 (b) for endangering state security, section 68 (c) of the Municipal Act, and section 24 (1) of the foreign currency act. He also appeared in court on August 10 and 17.

The junta-backed Union State and Development Party, led by junta ministers, the National Unity Party, Rakhine State National Force of Myanmar party, Mro National Party, Mro or Khami National Solidarity Organisation, and the Kaman National Progressive Party will also contest seats in Arakan in the elections on November 7.

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