Residents Of Northern Rakhine State Afraid To Check If They Are Registered To Vote

By Network Media Group
Friday, August 7, 2020

With the conflict raging in Rakhine State, many residents are unable to focus on Burma’s upcoming 2020 general election. Kyaw Hla Myint, from Kyauktaw town, told NMG the presence of Tatmadaw troops is preventing many from traveling to the town to confirm their names are on the voter’s list.

“There is no security for them, making travel difficult. They’re afraid to be arrested and disappeared.” Many Burma Army soldiers are deployed in Kyauktaw.

Kyaw Hla Myint said Tatmadaw soldiers with guns are on the Kispanady Bridge at all times. “The problem is that civilians are being arrested and then disappeared. We’re not concerned with AA (Arakan Army),” he said, explaining it’s the Burma Army that’s targeting villagers.

The government isn’t protecting the people, said a Rathedaung Township resident, who didn’t want to be named for fear of reprisal. At the same time civilians fear the Burma Army, they are facing extreme food insecurity because of the conflict. “Most fled their villages. No one is living in their homes anymore.”

Khin Saw Wai, a parliamentarian for Rathedaung Township, confirmed that very few in northern Rakhine State who are eligible to vote checked to see if their name was on the list. “I believe that the Union Election Commission needs to formally announce whether or not elections can be held in the conflict-affected townships in Rakhine State. It has the power to stop it for many reasons, including disaster.”

If the government can provide security for voters, the election can take place, she said. But as it stands, “clashes are happening frequently in northern Rakhine State.” Nonetheless, the parliamentarian hoped the NLD government could sort it out to allow polling to happen in all the townships in the state.

The election commissions posted voter’s lists in Minbya, Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw, Mraybon, Rathedaung, Buthidaung and Ponnagyun townships in northern Rakhine State Between July 25 to August 7.
Khin Saw Wai heard the voter’s list has already been made available in 330 townships in Burma.

Over 1.6 million are registered to vote when polling stations open in Rakhine State on November 8.