Kong Janoi, IMNA : A woman taking refuge on the Thai-Burma border claims that she fled her home, after abuse at the hands of that township-level authorities in her village in south Dagon Township, Rangoon Division made life for herself and her family unbearable.
Mya Thein Khine, of Karen and Burmese heritage, told IMNA that local authorities used their political powers to harass , imprison, and fine her husband and brother-in-law; she and her husband fled to the Thai-Burma border three months ago.
Mya Thein Khine explained to IMNA that south Dagon Township’s chairman U Khin Zaw and township secretary U Hla Sein, who were appointed to those positions after Burma’s military government reformed the local administration in 2009, repeatedly accused Mya Thein Khine’s husband, an ethnic Shan man, of being connected to Shan armed groups, simply because the couple had immigrated to Yangon Divison from Shan State looking for new business opportunities.
Mya Thein Khine reported to IMNA that the township authorities’ accusations and abuse were groundless and discriminatory.
“Because my husband is Shan, they [local authorities] accused him of being a Shan rebel group member. We are citizens in this country. We have ID cards. We have the right to move everywhere in the country. We did nothing wrong against the country. They do not have an evidence to prove that he is a Shan armed group member.”
Living in 168 quarter in South Dagon she also informed that her sister’s husband, who lived with the family, was arrested and sent to jail for singing a song that local authorities found offensive.
“He was just singing in the street on the way back home after drinking with his friends. They thought he sang indirectly to them about what they had done to people [human rights abuses]. So they accused him of disrespecting authorities and ordered the police to arrest him. We had to give police 20,000 kyat [20 USD] in order to get his release,” she said.
“It is not much money but for poor people like us, we struggled to get it,” she added.
Although her brother-in-law was released after bribing the police, Mya Thein Khine reported that the case is still ongoing because the local authorities wanted to continue to punish her brother, who is still living in Dagon Township.
“The local authorities are not satisfied with the release of our brother-in-law so they are being overly harsh with him,” she said.
U Aung Myo Thein from The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners informed IMNA that cases like those of Mya Thein Khine’s family are common in Bumra. He reported that local-level authorities have been given increased legal and executive power since the Saffron Revolution.
“People can be arrested for expressing their dissatisfactions in Burma. They will be accused of being rebels. After the authorities give the title to those who complain to them of being ‘rebels’, they can arrest them at any time. There is no further investigation as to whether their accusation is right or wrong. Before, the Military Intelligent Unit and the Police used to investigate the cases and arrest people but after 2007, even pro-junta associations such as Union Solidarity and Development Association can arrest people which is not the correct thing to do. That’s why people may choose to flee from their homes after they feel insecure in their [native] places,” he said.
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