Doctor provides gifts at pro-government election meeting

Fri 29 Jan 2010, IMNA

In Ye Township residents have reported receiving unexpected gifts of mosquito nets and medical advice from an area doctor, at a meeting in which members of the local government administration urged villagers to support pro-military government election parties.

The mosquito nets were distributed last week, at meetings held in the villages of Lane Maw Chan, Aung Thaphay and Bay Lamine, located in northern Ye Township. At the meeting the doctor, who was from Lamine sub township, distributed mosquito nets to families, and offered brief advice on the importance of health and that residents should take care.

According to a resident who attended the meeting, after the doctors health announcement, members of the Lamine Township Peace and Development Council (TPDC) talked about the upcoming 2010 election, and told villagers to vote for the political party that would support the military government.

Before the doctor and TPDC members arrived at the villages, soldiers from the Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 343 arrived to check security, according to a witness from one of the villages. Soldiers are reported to have arrived in advance at every village the doctor and TPDC members spoke at. During these speeches soldiers from LIB No. 343 took up guard positions outside the villages. A woman from the area said to IMNA, “Even though they did not explain to us why they came and delivered the mosquito nets to us, we suspect that they are trying to persuade us to vote for them in the 2010 election. Because they have never come and delivered mosquito nets or any other [support] for us [before].”

According to Nai Aue Mon, coordinator for the Human Rights Documentation and Dissemination (HRDD) Project, the Burmese military government has been documented making additional advanced preparations for the 2010 election. Battalion commanders from Ye township specifically ordered village headmen in Ye Township to make lists of families in the area for the 2010 election and to finish by the end of December 2009.

The 2010 election is part of the Burmese government’s, 7-step roadmap to a ‘disciplined democracy’, and supposed civilian rule.

The government has yet to release rules concerning party participation in the 2010 election, though recent rumors reported by media groups have suggested it will be held on October 10th. Without rules available, new political parities have been unable to officially form or begin campaigning for the election.

A similar act of charity was reported in January article from the Irrawaddy news group, in which government organized civilian groups were reported building homes in poorer neighborhoods outside Rangoon, reducing residents’ monthly rents to a thousand times the normal cost.

In November 2009, the National Unity Party (NUP), a military government backed civilian political party that formed in 1988, came to Ye Township to organize local villagers for a second time. Their first visit was made in August 2009.

The NUP was soundly defeated in Burma’s 1990 general election by the democracy moment’s National League for Democracy (NLD), gaining only 10 of 492 parliamentary seats. Despite this the military government ignored the election results and remained in power.

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