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  Asia-Pacific
Protest against Military Election in Burma
By Nava Thakuria
Special Correspondent
The Burmese communities living in different parts of the world have started coordinated demonstration against military controlled election in their country. The exile Burmese and their supporters had participated in a Global Day of Action on May 27 in more than 20 countries around the globe. They termed the proposed general election by the military regime of Burma (Myanmar) as military's election and continued their call for a genuine people's election.

The last election in Myanmar on May 27, 1990 resulted in an overwhelming victory for the pro-democracy opposition parties, but the military junta did not hand over power to the elected representatives.

The Myanmarese expatriate groups demonstrated their resentment against the imposed military election in Myanmar organizing rallies primarily in front of Myanmar Embassy, United Nations building and other public places on the day to draw the attention of the international community.

The pro-democracy Myanmarese activists based in India also staged a demonstration and a symbolic people's election at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on the same day. A memorandum was also sent to the Union government by the demonstrators with various demands and appeals.

The Global Day of Action under the Global Campaign against Myanmar's 2010 military election was initiated by Ten Alliances of Myanmar's democracy and ethnic rights movement representing broad-based and multi-ethnic cooperation of political and civil society organizations from inside and outside Myanmar. The initiative has been endorsed by over 150 organizations in the world.

Meanwhile, thousands of Myanmarese community living in exile had signed postcards and that way voted in favour of the pro-democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and a democratic federal union of Myanmar.

The signed postcards even call on the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to denounce the forthcoming 2010 elections in Myanmar and reject the results unless the Myanmarese regime changes its repressive actions.

"It is already clear that the military's elections this year will not be a step forward that Myanmar needs. The National League for Democracy and many ethnic groups have already decided that they cannot participate in such a sham election. The Indian government should stand with them and the people of Myanmar in demanding genuine democratic elections, rather than supporting the military's sham elections," said Dr, Tint Swe, MP elect in 1990 election.

The NLD and other democratic parties of Myanmar recorded a landslide victory in the 1990 general election, but the junta did not recognize the outcome of the polls. And shockingly, the group of Generals imprisoned many opposition political leaders and many elected representatives left the country to take refuge in foreign countries.

The military junta has once again declared a general election sometime later this year. But the electoral laws released prior to the exercise indicated that the junta was still uncomfortable with Ms Suu Kyi. Over 2000 political activists are still behind bars in Myanmar and they will never be allowed to take part in the election.

Speaking to this writer from New Delhi, Tint Swe of NLD (now de-registered) also added, "The people of Myanmar put their choices bravely twenty years ago, but their mandates were bulldozed by the junta. We reaffirm our conviction that the people of Myanmarese deserve the freedom to choose their future for themselves."

Condemning the military dictatorship of Myanmar as well as flawed its election laws, the senior Myanmar political leader demanded the immediate release of all political prisoners. He also asked for a genuine political dialogue with opposition and ethnic groups of Myanmar before the election.

"We, the exile Myanmarese in India or anywhere in the globe are actually calling on international governments to denounce the proposed Myanmar election and reject the results under this situation. The Chinese and Indian governments with the member-countries under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are being urged primarily, as those nations have maximum influences on the junta," said Pu Kim, a Myanmar political activist based in New Delhi.

Earlier the European Union and Association of South East Asian Nations urged the Myanmar government to ensure a credible and transparent election. In a joint statement on May 26, both the organizations insisted that the junta should go for 'a credible, transparent and inclusive process' for the proposed election.

But their statement invited critical comments from the Myanmar Campaign UK. Reacting sharply, the pressure group termed the joint statement on Myanmar by the EU and ASEAN which includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, as 'pathetic' and 'irresponsible.'

"The statement bizarrely calls on the dictatorship to 'continue to engage in meaningful manner with the international community, including ASEAN and the UN'. Both the EU and ASEAN are fully aware that the dictatorship has not been engaging in a meaningful manner with the international community, yet they use the word 'continue.'

Why are they issuing factually incorrect statements which present the dictatorship in more positive light?" asked Mark Farmaner of Myanmar Campaign UK.

He also added, "The statement also calls on the elections to be made free and fair, even though the EU and ASEAN are aware that this is impossible and that the dictatorship has no intention of making them so. Both the EU and ASEAN are also fully aware that the new constitution introduced after the election is designed to maintain dictatorship, making the question of whether elections are free and fair completely irrelevant."

"After almost five decades of military rule, the people of Myanmar want real, democratic, people's elections. It is now clear, however, that the military regime's first election in 20 years will be nothing
but a thinly veiled attempt to legitimize military rule," stated a press release from Myanmar Partnership, the campaign secretariat of Global Campaign against Myanmar's 2010 military election.

Even the ASEAN secretary general Surin Pitsuwan admitted in an interview that the Myanmar election might not be perfect. But the soft spoken gentleman and former Thai foreign minister argued that it would be the beginning of an initiative emphasizing on a genuine national reconciliation and finally would lead for a real democracy in Myanmar.



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Nava Thakuria, who serves as a special correspondent for The Seoul Times, is based in Guwahati of Northeast India. He also contributes articles for many media outlets based in different parts of the glove, and can be contacted at navathakuria@gmail.com

 

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