Rohingya MP Shwe Maung today defended his right to run in the election and said there is no doubt in his mind that his father was a citizen at the time of his birth.
Speaking on the sidelines of a small press conference outside the National Human Rights Commission in Yangon, the Muslim MP said he was “surprised” when told last month that his father was not a Myanmar national, because he had been a career police officer who would have needed proper papers for work.
He called the decision last month to bar him from running in the November 8 elections on those grounds as “illogical” and “illegal.”
“To become a police officer is not a joke in Myanmar,” he said, referring to his father’s level of acceptance in society. “I feel bad [about the decision] but I feel that they are lying.”
Shwe Maung’s second appeal to a regional election panel in Rakhine state – where he planned on running as an independent, though he was formerly elected as a ruling USDP lawmaker – was rejected on September 1 in less than 10 seconds, he said.
As a last-ditch effort he is taking his case to the Union Election Commission. He would not comment on what he planned to do if the UEC also blocked his candidacy.
“Let me wait for that,” he said.
One of a handful of Muslim lawmakers barred from running in the election, Shwe Maung was accompanied today by Malaysian MP Charles Santiago from the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights.
Santiago had more forceful words, saying Myanmar’s government had been “held hostage” to right-wing groups [Buddhist nationalists].
“He [Shwe Maung] is an elected member of parliament from 2010,” Santiago said. “It makes no sense. “2010 is one law and another law right now?”
Photo of Shwe Maung addressing reporters / Coconuts Yangon