Four dozen National League for Democracy offices targeted since February Myanmar coup

Dozens of offices of deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) have been the target of bombings and other attacks since her government was overthrown by the military in a February coup, according to a top party official.

Kyaw Htwe, a member of the NLD Central Committee, told RFA’s Myanmar Service that “there have been 44 such incidents since the coup” at party offices throughout the country.

“They raided and destroyed our offices—they destroyed doors, signboards, flags, etc.,” he said.

“The NLD headquarters in Yangon was raided three times and fire-bombs have been thrown at it. The Mandalay region office was similarly raided, and all manner of things were destroyed. All of these attacks were carried out at nighttime, despite Section 144 [night curfew].”

According to Kyaw Htwe, there were at least a dozen attacks on NLD offices in October alone, including in Mon state, as well as Tanintharyi, Mandalay and Irrawaddy regions. October marked the highest number of times NLD offices were targeted in a single month since the military seized power, he said.

One of the latest bomb attacks on an NLD office occurred at around midnight on Oct. 27 in Mandalay. A resident told RFA on condition of anonymity that the blast shattered windows and damaged the entire façade of the building.

“It happened while it was quiet at night, so we all heard the blast, but we didn’t dare go out to look,” the resident said.

“We all know in our hearts who did it. We didn’t go out because we didn’t want to put our lives in danger.”

The same office had been the target of an attack on Oct. 17, when portraits of detained party chief and former State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi were destroyed. The office has been closed since February and is not being monitored by security guards.

A map shows the location of attacks on National League for Democracy party offices since the Feb. 1, 2021 military coup. RFA
A map shows the location of attacks on National League for Democracy party offices since the Feb. 1, 2021 military coup. RFA

NLD offices in Tanintharyi region’s Myeik and Dawei townships were also bombed on Oct. 20 and 21, respectively. The head of an unidentified person was recently hung outside another NLD office in Tanintharyi’s Yebyu township.

In Mon state, offices in Kyaikto, Thaton and Bilin townships were all targeted in explosions on Oct. 24, while an office in Mawlamyine township was attacked a few days earlier.

Additionally, offices in Irrawaddy region’s Pathein township and Sagaing region’s Kyun Hla township were also the targets of recent attacks.

A resident of Kyun Hla, who declined to be named, told RFA that the NLD office there was “set on fire” after more than a dozen soldiers “entered the area firing their weapons.” They said that the local fire brigade was notified, but nobody showed up to extinguish the blaze.

The Dawae township NLD office in March 2021 (left) and what remains of the office after a bomb blast on Oct. 21, 2021. RFA
The Dawae township NLD office in March 2021 (left) and what remains of the office after a bomb blast on Oct. 21, 2021. RFA

Junta intentions

Nine months after the military’s Feb. 1 coup, security forces have killed 1,242 civilians and arrested at least 7,038, according to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners—mostly during crackdowns on anti-junta protests.

The junta says it unseated the NLD government because, they claimed, the party had engineered a landslide victory in Myanmar’s November 2020 election through widespread voter fraud. It has yet to present evidence of its claims and public unrest is at an all-time high.

Following the coup on Feb. 1, security forces arrested several top leaders of the NLD, including Aung San Suu Kyi. NLD officials who escaped arrest fled to safety and have continued to oppose the junta. In the early days after the coup, multiple NLD offices were raided and the NLD headquarters in Yangon was bombed.

Analysts told RFA that the targeted attacks on NLD offices were aligned with the junta’s intentions, noting that Thein Soe, chairman of the military-appointed Union Election Commission, said in May that the government was considering dissolving the party and prosecuting its top leaders for treason.

“The aim is to disband the NLD in Myanmar politics so that the NLD cannot take part in future elections,” said political analyst Than Soe Naing.

“But I think what the junta is doing with its security forces is [instead] pushing the people to continue to support the NLD, at a time when it’s conducting nationwide crackdowns and killings. They will continue to do so until they have to relinquish power.”

Than Soe Naing said he expects attacks on NLD offices to continue.

Attempts by RFA to reach junta spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun for comment on the attacks went unanswered.

The junta is still seeking the arrest of several top NLD officials across the country and detained at least 458 NLD members in the eight months from February to September.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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