Junta's civil arm has become a 'bully': Report
A report by the Network for Democracy and Development said that the organisation has become junta's tool to oppress civilians.india Updated: May 30, 2006 11:31 IST
A civil organisation set up by military-run Myanmar has become the junta's tool to oppress civilians and could evolve into a political party with more than 20 million members, a report said on Tuesday.
The report by the Network for Democracy and Development, a Thai-based group of Myanmar's pro-democracy exiles, came on the third anniversary of a deadly attack against opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's convoy in northern Myanmar.
The 2003 attack led to her latest house arrest, which was again extended by the junta on Saturday for another one year. The government said the attack killed four people but her supporters put the death toll at nearly 100.
The military regime created the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) in 1993 as a social and civil organisation, but the report alleged USDA members were linked to Aung San Suu Kyi's attack on May 30, 2003.
That attack was "a failed attempt to assassinate Aung San Suu Kyi and destroy the National League for Democracy," it said, referring to her opposition party, which won a landslide election victory in 1990. The junta never recognised the result.
The report also argued the USDA has become "a civilian force" to "bully and oppress other civilians."
"With the formation of people's militias and an increasingly prominent role in the security forces of the country, the USDA has managed to create a culture of lawlessness and thuggish behaviour," it said.
The group, which commands more than 20 million members out of Myanmar's 54 million population, was involved "in the incitement of religious conflict, extra judicial killings and the harassment of the opposition," it said.
Apart from the USDA's use of violence, the report raised the alarm over the group's evolution into a political party.
"The use of harassment, intimidation and outright violence raise concerns as to how the USDA will function as a political party.
It is clear that any future elections would have to be rigged or the people so cowed in order for the USDA to win," it said.
The report also said the International Committee of the Red Cross had to suspend its inspection of prisons in Myanmar due to "the USDA's insistence on accompanying" Red Cross members.
The United Nations estimates Myanmar has over 1,100 political prisoners.