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A parliamentary representative of the National League for Democracy (NLD) is in hospital with lacerations to his head after four men attacked him on Thursday night. At least one man was wielding a machete.
Naingan Lynn*, who is contesting the Rangoon Division seat of Theketa, was attacked while campaigning in the city suburb. Three fellow NLD party members were also injured, including his campaign manager, Thandar Aung.
“I was struck twice in this arm – I was shocked and now my arm is feeling numb. The doctors said they will get an x-ray on the injury so I’m waiting. That’s all I remember. It happened around 9:30pm,” Thandar Aung told DVB at Rangoon General Hospital late last night.
Naingan Lynn, who is the current lower house member for Dekkhinathiri Township in Naypyidaw, underwent surgery at Rangoon General Hospital last night. Doctors say his condition is stable. The politician has been moved from the neurological ward to the orthopaedic, after an operation to reconnect major veins and arteries in his face was successful.Naingan Lynn will required further surgery on Monday, according to doctors.
A large crowd gathered outside the hospital on Thursday night, remaining into the early hours of Friday morning. Red-clad NLD members held a vigil for the wounded party members.
Three of the six assailants were arrested by police and are being held in at Thaketa Township police station. One man, described as the leader of the attack, has been charged with causing grievous hurt with a dangerous weapon. He has also been charged with one count of committing an ‘obscene act’ and another of abetting crime.
Threats against Naingan Lynn and his supporters had circulated in the lead-up to Thursday’s violence. Thandar Aung confirmed that a signboard had been strung up outside a local home, warning that Naingan Lynn would “be hacked” should he or any other NLD member door-knock at the house. Thaketa is known as a ‘rough’ suburb in Rangoon.
“I haven’t [met the attacker before] but our local members claimed to know him. I have never seen him personally before, but all our local members and officials are said to know him,” Thandar Aung said of her attacker.
“One thing we noticed when we went there previously was that the perpetrator put up a signboard at his house warning he would knife or hack NLD candidates who came to his house. We saw it and decided not to enter his property. Last night we were just walking down the street along with the float. All the residents in the neighbourhood confirmed the attacker is from that house.”
The NLD and other opposition parties have remained on high alert as to the possibility of violent attacks in the lead-up to the country’s general election, now just over one week away. Earlier in the campaign period, the NLD reported the beating of a supporter in the Irrawaddy town of Myaungmya. Thursday’s attack however is the most serious episode of violence to come during the now seven weeks of campaigning.
Speaking at the hospital last night was Min Ko Naing, a senior figure in the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society Group, which has endorsed Suu Kyi’s NLD.
The veteran democracy activist called for calm.
“I would like to urge everyone to show restraint – we have to know what’s important and what’s not. I’m not saying that we need to keep our heads down and endure everything done to us, but we have to show that we are peaceful and brave; that we look after one another in time of need.
“What the people in our country need at this crucial turn in our country’s course of history is legal protection. But as we cannot fully get legal protection, we have to protect each other and at the same time guide each other. We must consider every possibilities of danger ahead and find a way to best protect each other.”
The NLD is yet to make an official statement on the incident.
*Editor’s note: Naingan Lynn’s name was originally spelled Naing Nan Lynn in this article. That has been amended.