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Myanmar Parties Raise Concern After Grenades Found Near Election Official’s Home

An olive green hand grenade lies among leaves and other debris in a residential compound of a local election official in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw, Sept. 20, 2020Photo courtesy of an RFA listener/RFA

Myanmar’s military and political parties on Monday condemned intimidation tactics in the run-up to November polls after the weekend discovery of unexploded hand grenades at the home of the top election official in the capital Naypyidaw.

With Myanmar headed to the polls Nov. 8 to elect national and state legislatures, campaigning has been hampered by increasingly tight restrictions aimed at fighting a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic.

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the grenades in Naypyidaw, discovered just days after the Union Election Commission, the national body that oversees voting, ruled out a postponement of the balloting despite an appeal by the main opposition party and a group of small parties, citing rigid pandemic restrictions.

Two hand grenades were discovered Saturday and Sunday at the residential compound of Thein Htwe, chairman of the Naypyidaw Election Subcommission, said spokesmen for the Myanmar Police Force and the army.

Myanmar military spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun said a review of security footage by a military technical team indicated that the two grenades were both thrown near Thein Htwe’s residence on Saturday night, although one was not discovered until Sunday afternoon.

Video recordings on the home’s four CCTV cameras indicate that someone threw an object into the compound from the street, where it hit a broom and landed by a tree, Zaw Min Tun said.

“We searched in that area and found a grenade of the same type as the first one,” he said. “As we have seen in the CCTV footage, it was thrown in around 9:48 p.m., the same time the first one was thrown in.”

“We are very close to the election date,” he said. “This could be intimidation. Besides, the perpetrators must have intended to stoke fear and disillusionment among various organizations.”

The military spokesman’s concern was echoed by election observers, journalists, and lawmakers who said they view the incident as a threat to the elections.

Maung Maung Swe, a lawmaker from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party who represents Mandalay region, said the incident was meant to cause panic in the run-up to the vote.

“The perpetrators are trying to intimidate the public,” he said.

“It is normal for some groups of people to respond like that when they see results they don’t expect. I want to appeal to the people not to panic if there are rumors and threats before the election,” said Maung Maung Swe.

Particularly worrying

Nandar Hla Myint, spokesman of the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), said the incident was particularly worrying because it is unknown which organization or individual threw the hand grenades.

“If the authorities concerned examine the incident and reveal the truth, everything will be in the clear,” he told RFA. “Otherwise, there will be confusion and misconceptions among the parties. It will lead to concerns.”

The USDP, Myanmar’s main opposition party, joined other small parties last week in an appeal to postpone the elections, arguing that size limits on rallies, stay-at-home-orders, and quarantines to fight a resurgence of COVID-19 all played to the advantage of 75-year-old leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling NLD.

Aung Soe Win, assistant director of Naypyidaw Election Subcommission, said the body is not concerned about the incident.

“We will keep performing our duties,” he told RFA. I don’t want to comment on the conclusions reached by many people.”

Journalist Myint Kyaw, a member of the Myanmar Press Council, noted that no such acts of intimidation occurred before the last general elections in 2015.

“Just last week there was a bloody brawl between USDP campaigners and NLD supporters,” he said. “Now, we have the bomb incident.”

Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint, executive director of the elections watchdog group People’s Alliance for Credible Elections said, “No matter what the cause is, we should not accept violent acts regarding the election.”

About 37.5 million voters in Myanmar’s population of 54 million are eligible to cast ballots in the Nov. 8 elections. Nearly 7,000 candidates from more than 90 parties, as well as independents, are vying for 1,171 seats available in both houses of the national parliament and in state and regional legislatures.

Reported by Thet Su Aung and Thiha Tun for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Copyright © 1998-2020, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036.

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How to identify Fake News or Messages on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is the duplicate one might be or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

Follow WHO guidelines

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

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But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

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