As Burma prepares itself for its General Elections, which have been criticized worldwide for being neither free nor fair, the Free Burma Campaign (Singapore) is lending its voice to the criticism with an event at Speakers’ Corner on 30 October.
From the Free Burma Campaign:
Join us at Speakers’ Corner on Saturday, 30 October 2010 from 4pm to 4.45pm to say “NO TO BURMA’S SHAM ELECTIONS” .
Come for a photo session and get your voice heard with a large placard that reads “No to Burma’s Sham Elections”. As a gesture of solidarity, do wear a red shirt for the event.
The Burmese Junta is determined to push through with elections on 7 November 2010. This is being done despite electoral laws that clearly do not allow a free and fair election.
Long-time dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest while many political prisoners are still held in prison. Meanwhile, the Burmese people are living in constant fear of torture and harassment under the military regime.
Join us as we stand in unity with the people of Burma. Let us come together to say “No” to the planned election – a sham election that does not represent the true voice of the people.
No to Burma’s Sham Election!
Our Facebook event page – http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155688537800050
From The Guardian, 13 August:
Burma will hold its first elections in two decades on 7 November, the ruling military junta has announced, amid growing international criticism that the poll will be neither free nor fair.
In a brief statement, the regime announced on national television only that “multi-party general elections for the country’s parliament will be held on Sunday 7 November”.
The poll presents a massive logistical challenge for authorities who have less than three months to organise nationwide polls for a country of more than 50 million people, separated by mountains, poor roads, and resistance armies, during Burma’s wet season.
So far nearly 40 parties have registered for the election, though 11 are regime or proxy-regime parties.
Finding support for parties opposed to the ruling junta is difficult, democracy activists have said.
Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein is one of “Burma’s princesses”, one of three daughters of former prime ministers who lead the newly formed Democratic party.
“People are very scared of politicians. They don’t want to come near or mingle with us. They always say it is safe to stay away from the politicians because otherwise they will be bullied by the government,” she told The Guardian.
Most opposition parties are targeting only a few seats, while the 26 parties representing ethnic minorities will contest only seats where they have substantial populations.
The military will contest every seat and is understood to have a massive war chest of election funds, raised mainly through selling off state assets.
“We are no match compared with the Solidarity party from the government,” Kaung Myint Htut from the Democracy Congress party said.
“We don’t have enough budget, we don’t have the people, we are no match.”
The international community has grown increasingly frustrated by the secrecy surrounding Burma’s election preparations, and the country’s draconian new electoral laws.
“A lack of cooperation at this critical moment represents nothing less than a lost opportunity for Myanmar,” the UN secretary general, Ban Ki Moon, said this week.
The United States, European Union and other states have imposed sanctions on Burma’s military rulers for their failure to pursue genuine democratic reforms.
“We certainly do not have any expectation that what proceeds in Burma will be anything that remotely resembles a free, fair or legitimate result,” US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said last month.
The last elections in Burma, held in 1990, were won overwhelmingly by the National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi. The result, which gave more than 80% of parliamentary seats to the NLD, was never accepted by the military, and Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of the two decades since under house arrest.
This time new electoral laws exclude Aung San Suu Kyi by banning anybody serving a custodial sentence from participating.
In protest, the NLD is boycotting the election and is urging other groups not to participate, arguing that taking part in the poll will legitimise and formalise military rule in the country that has not know democracy since 1962.
The elections will also enact a controversial new constitution for Burma, one that guarantees 25% of the seats in parliament and reserves key ministries for the military.
Since no elections have been held in south-east Asia’s poorest country in 20 years, no one under the age of 38 has ever voted before.
Almost 50% of Burma’s electors will be first-time voters in November, and many are cynical the result has already been fixed.
A poll of more than 1,000 young people, by Burmese civil society organisation Egress, found 78% believed the result of the election would be manipulated by the ruling military regime, but that they still intended to vote.
Fifteen per cent believed the elections would be “useless” in moving Burma towards democracy.