‘Leader’ of Nationalist Mob Founds New Political Party

The man alleged to have led a Buddhist nationalist mob in Yangon that last week forced Muslims to stop their Ramadan prayers has founded a new political party using his wife as an intermediary.

Michael Kyaw Myint got permission to establish the Party for Uplifting the Life of Common People on May 2 after directing his wife to apply for the permit in September last year.

At the time he was serving a prison sentence after being convicted for defamation for comments accusing senior regional officials in Yangon of corruption.

“He told us what he wanted, and we carried out the tasks as he directed,” his wife, Aye Aye Thin, told Myanmar Now.

Michael Kyaw Myint is now on the run after being charged under section 505(b) for causing “fear or alarm” to the public last week.

He was filmed on May 15 in South Dagon township threatening to “tear down” a mosque in the area, apparently referring to a residential building that had been temporarily repurposed as a prayer room.  

His alleged accomplice in the mob, Thiha Myo Naing, who is also on the run, has been appointed chairman of the party’s township committee in South Dagon Myothit.

Eighteen people are listed as founding members of the new party, which is headquartered in Mingalar Taung Nyunt township.

The Union Election Commission refused to disclose their names to Myanmar Now but an official confirmed Michael Kyaw Myint’s name was not on the list.

Michael Kyaw Myint signed one document that named him as a member of the party’s central executive committee, though the future of that role now he is a fugitive is unclear, said Aye Aye Thin.

But she said the party’s plans will depend on his directions. “After we have established the central committee, his directions will decide what we’ll do next, and I will act accordingly,” she said.

Union Election Commission spokesperson Myint Naing warned the commission would take action if the party tried to recruit new members under the name of religion.

“The law forbids mixing politics with religion. You can’t do politics in the name of religion,” he said.

The party says its basic objectives include non-disintegration of the union, non-disintegration of national solidarity, perpetuation of sovereignty, and promoting a true democratic system.

The party has 60 days from its founding to prove it has organised at least 1,000 members across the country, Myint Naing said.

Michael Kyaw Myint was in January last year sentenced to a total of a year and 10 months in prison under various laws after he accused Yangon’s chief minister Phyo Min Thein and an associate of corruption.

Early this year he led a rally in downtown Yangon in support of the 2008 constitution, which gives the military sweeping political power.

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