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A spokesperson for Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has defended one of their members accused of drugging and raping a 15-year-old girl in a controversial statement that highlights that both he and the alleged victim are Muslims.
It followed reports that a young girl had been drugged and brutally assaulted by a local NLD commission member while visiting a party-run learning centre in Rangoon’s Pandeban township last Thursday.
The girl, who cannot be named, says that when she arrived a 22-year old NLD member gave her a spiked coca-cola and she fell unconscious. According to her sister, she woke up without her shirt and trousers and realised he had raped her. The family has since filed a report with the police in Rangoon.
But in a statement released on Sunday, NLD Information Committee member Kyi Toe deflected accusations of rape by insisting that the “two persons involved … are followers of the Islamic religion”. He went on to say that the two had been a couple in the past and there were no eyewitness accounts of the alleged attack. He also insisted that the girl is not underage.
“According to the community, the two have been a couple, naturally as youths do,” said the statement. “We learned that the victim, who has been attending the learning centre, has failed 10th Grade twice and is not underage. We have also learnt there was no witness to the incident.”
The statement, posted on Facebook, has attracted some vitriolic comments by users, who have picked up on the description of the two as Muslims.
“It’s a case between two kalars, no need to be concerned,” said one user, using a derogatory term for persons of South Asian descent. “Just kalars doing kalar thing,” said another.
“It is really necessary to mention their religion?” asked a third.
DVB understands that it was not an official NLD statement, but a personal release by Kyi Toe. When asked for a comment, the NLD declined.
But it is not the first time the party has come under fire for allegations of Islamophobia. In recent months, Aung San Suu Kyi and her pro-democracy party have faced acute criticism for their silence on the persecution of Burma’s Muslim Rohingya minority, who are deprived of citizenship by the regime and denied basic civic rights.