Karenni State MP ‘Warned’ About Public Discussions With Youth, Farmers Union

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An MP for Hpruso Township attends a meeting where he is asked about the protests surrounding a statue of the late Gen Aung San.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Karenni State parliamentarian Thae Reh has received a “warning” from the parliament speaker regarding his involvement in a public meeting with a farmers union, youth, and locals in Hpruso Township, where he is the representative for Constituency (1).

The meeting was organized on March 20 by the Kayah Liphu Youth organization, and Thae Reh discussed Karenni history and the controversy around a statue of the late Gen Aung San erected in the capital of Loikaw.

“I warned Sayar Thae Reh. He is not guilty regarding the public meeting but he is guilty concerning voter campaigning,” U Hla Htwe, the state parliament speaker, told Kantarawaddy Times. “I do accept that it’s good to hold a public meeting as an MP. As the chairman of state parliament, I do support it,” he added.

Thae Reh said that he saw “no problem with meeting voters.”

“I didn’t push them to do anything. I only discussed and shared my opinion in the meeting. [The parliament speaker] should not block my discussions,” he explained.

According to U Thae Reh, the Karenni youth present in the meeting asked him to provide insight into the situation regarding the Gen Aung San statue, which many people protested as an inappropriate commemoration when the General’s promises to ethnic people regarding equality have not been fulfilled.

“I had to answer their questions. They wanted to know about Karenni history…I didn’t push them regarding what to do or how to do it,” he said.

There were two local meetings question, attended by a total of nearly 200 people. In one session, the MP was asked if the public should remove the Gen Aung San statue if the government did not do it by themselves.

“The parliament speaker doesn’t blame me, but he told me to carefully consider my participation in this kind of meeting in the future,” Thae Reh said. “In my opinion, if people ask me questions, I have to answer their questions. If [the parliamentary leadership] blocks me from doing it, I would like to say that it does not fit with democracy and human rights norms.”

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