Ye Township USDA office use government administration to request family lists from area residents

April 26, 2010

HURFOM,YE TOWNSHIP: In order to obtain the exact lists of the eligible voters, a government backed civilian group, the Union Solidarity and Develop Association  (USDA), which is expected to enrollee as a political party, has used the assistance of the Burmese government Township Peace and Development Council [TPDC] authorities to significantly increased its influence in Ye township. Many local sources have reported that the USDA plans to use this effort as leverage to win the most seats for their members in the new parliament in the anticipated 2010 election.  

After the finish of Burma’s traditional New Years Water Festival, the government backed civilian organization and expected political party, the USDA, began using members in Ye Township to distribute a family survey form to pressure residents into voting for them.  Distribution of the form highlights their connection with the government and their active observation of area residents prior to the anticipated 2010 election, according to a Lamine sub-township resident, located in Ye territory.

A 44 year old ethnic Mon resident from Lamine, who asked that his name be kept anonymous, confirmed what other villagers have reported:

In this sub-township, I witnessed that their people [USDA members] approaching the Township Peace and Development Council [TPDC] to distribute the family members lists among the [sub-township] inhabitants. They have been distributing a family list form which is titled ‘The Family List Form No.6/66 to Determine Which Residents are Above the Age of 18’ My family received this form on last week. As the family’s head, I have been urged to fill out the form and send it back to my ward/village headmen.

The form that has been distributed to each household by Ye township USDA members is divided into nine columns. Specifically the list details, the number of person you are on the list (1st, 2nd, 3rd etc.), name, sex, date of birth, National Identity Card #, the head of house’s father’s name, the resident’s full address, ethnicity and an area for notes. 7 out of 10 individuals that HURFOM researchers interviewed in the region between April 21st and 22nd  feel that there is an indirect threat from the USDA party to vote for their party and candidates.

Ye township has already seen two efforts by government forces to carry out census and family lists that request detailed information about residents.  The 1st was conducted by the Immigration Office and the second was undertaken by the TPDC. In these instances the lists requested for family membership and details of all members, not just residents 18 and above.

A 25 year old Mon man, who give his nick name of Akyaw, expressed his opinion on the distribution of the USDA’s family survey form:

I think they [USDA members] tried to pressure us by collecting detailed information. For the ordinary villager like me, I have to worry and have to be very careful to vote for the government parties thought I don’t trust them. I felt that their action is quite strange because they are secretly active [pulling the strings] behind the Township Peace and Development Council. They don’t distribute this form themselves, [they] tr[y] to use the power of the township authorities.

One source who is close to a member of the Ye Township Peace and Development Council [TPDC] told HURFOM that the township USDA received government support to secretly launch their activities during this pre election period. Another source who is a key member from the Ye Township USDA explained that state level USDA leaders believe that they could have greater success electorally with assistances from the government to win the seats in Mon State.

“I am very sure that this time the population survey is an indirect activity by the Mon State USDA party to win the most representative [seats] in the parliament,” a source closed to TPDC explained. “The USDA State leaders believe that they have strong membership who are young, smart and active in each township of Mon State. Moreover, the Party is able to get the direct support from the local authorities, just like with this recent activity [distributing family lists]. So, compared with other political parties, they have more opportunities and more confidence in competing in this coming election. Even though they have not yet formed a party with the official structure and title, they are secretly working though the TPDC.”

Local political observers and respected leaders from the Mon communities living in the Ye township claimed that the recent efforts by USDA for political party activity is directly contrary to the widely broadcast intentions of the Burmese government to hold a “free and fare election”. The Burmese military government’s Senior General Than Shwae highlighted in speeches promoting the anticipated election that no group or individual can force another to vote for any party or candidate. Specifically under the recently announced 2010 election laws, no parties or individuals can act in a political fashion until they have registered as a party.

“Now, they are [the party members of USDA] getting assistance from the Township PDC authorities to secure their future polls,” claimed a 67 year old former Mon politician living in a township in Mon State. “Such kinds of efforts are abuses of power and shameful activities.”

According to a Kaloh villager, 33 year old Mi Than Mying, who survives as a local merchant, confirmed that her villager also received a copy of the No.6/66 family list survey form from the village headmen. However she reports most people thought it was part of the census process:

Most people think this is part of the State’s population survey. Of course they have been making sure of the exact number of adults who are 18 and up in the area since the previous year. The village secretary who is also the head of the village level USDA distributed this No.6/66 family list form, ordering to my husband, ‘you must fill this form out’ but [there have been] no consequences regarding our not filling it out.

63 year old Nai Mon Nyan, who requested that HURFOM use a fake name and is a former political prisoner originally from Pegu Division, expressed his opinions on the government backed USDA’s activities in Mon State:

A friend of my elder daughter who is a division level key member of the USDA told me that their party is very well organize and systematic. They have been planning to win more seats in the parliament than other political parties. There are no doubt in saying that as a government backed association such as the USDA – as its current leaders are serving in the SPDC administration – they must receive lots of assistance and opportunities from the government. There is [even] a rumor spreading around that the Prime Minister, Gen. Thein Sein will lead the USDA political party.

HURFOM field researchers also learned that in order to systematically crush or break up possible demonstrations and uprisings, braches of the Burmese government administration have been organizing anti-protest gangs. A university student who refused to become involved in the USDA in Lamine sub-township explained that the Mon State PDC has worked to form groups of 300 to 500 pro-government individuals in each village and sub-township which have more than 1,000 households, such as in Hangan, Kaloh, Mawkanin, Kawdoot and Lamine sub-township in Ye Township, Mon State.

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