Protest in Taungup Against Referendum
Taungup: The military government has adopted the new tactic this year of providing more electricity to Taungup in an effort to placate residents and avoid further protests like those that have taken place over the last few years.
Taungup is a town located in western Burma’s Arakan State where dozens of protests against the military government have broken out over the last few years, in spite of efforts by the authorities to crack down on such demonstrations.
Every Burmese person knows of the town’s role in the democracy movement in Burma due to the many protests that have been staged there. As a result of the protests, many democracy activists in the town have been arrested by the authorities and sentenced to long prison terms.
U Kyaw Khaing, Chairman of Taungup Township’s NLD, was sentenced to two years in prison while Ko Min Aung, General Secretary of the township NLD, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
U Khin Hla, Vice-Chairman of Taungup Township’s NLD, as well as many youths, including Ms. Ni Ni May Myint, Moe Nay Soe, Chit Mg Mg, Maung Maung Thet, and Than Htay, are being detained in several prisons for their anti-junta activities.
Speaking to Narinjara over the phone, a youth from Taungup said, “The authority has been distributing electricity twice a day to our town, during the day and night, since the beginning of August. It is very strange compared to previous times, but I know why the authority is supplying more power to our town – it is intended to placate people and lure them to support the government.”
The authority supplies electricity from the state-owned generator in the town from 6 pm to 10 pm at night, and supplies electricity from another generator owned by businessman U Kyauk Taung from 10 am to 4 pm during the day.
“U Kyauk Taung is a business partner of army generals in Burma. He distributes the electricity in the town during the day, but the authority provides the fuel for his generator,” the youth said.
According to a local source, the government has also constructed a black-top paved road between downtown and the traffic jetty in a further attempt to gain support of the locals for the upcoming election, and to avoid protests. The road was ruthless in the past and people were unable to travel it in cars.
In Arakan State there are several towns larger than Taungup, including Sittwe, Thandwe, and Kyauk Pru, but they are currently not getting more than three hours of electricity a day.