That Other Election – the one in Burma – in which 2 million people, mainly from ethnic minorities will be banned from voting. The military continue to crush the hopes of Burma while Aung San Suu Kyi has squandered her reputation and a historic opportunity.

Nov 5, 2020 | Uncategorized

Today, Burma Campaign UK has published this briefing ahead of the general elections in Burma this Sunday.

Key points from the briefing:

  • Under Burma’s military drafted 2008 constitution, it is impossible for elections to be free and fair.
  • Even within the constraints of the constitution, the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi has engaged in activities which will make this election less free and fair than the last one.
  • This is an apartheid election, with most Rohingya banned from voting.
  • International donors, including the UK, ignored a UN recommendation to review support for the election if Rohingya were excluded, and provided support to the racist government body, the Union Election Commission.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi remains constitutionally barred from the Presidency, although she has circumvented this ban through the State Counsellor position.
  • Ethnic and religious minorities will suffer most from disenfranchisement and marginalisation in the election.
  • In light of the military’s refusal to agree changes to the 2008 constitution, and the undemocratic actions and human rights violations by the civilian NLD-led government, the international community needs to reassess its assumption that Burma is undergoing a transition to democracy, and change its approach accordingly.
  • The NLD will likely win the election but with a reduced majority. Key to watch will be the percentage of vote going to the military party, the USDP, which in 2015 received almost 30% of the vote.
Meanwhile CSW has issued this call for free and fair elections:
CSW calls on the Burmese authorities to ensure that the country’s national elections, scheduled for 8 November, are free and fair. The elections are the second to take place since Burma’s fragile democratic transition, and only the fourth elections of any sort in the past three decades. The previous election in 2015 was won overwhelmingly by the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Human rights organisations around the world hoped that the NLD-led government would have led to improvements in protection for human rights in the country, but instead the past five years have seen very grave setbacks, with a fragile democratisation process increasingly undermined and significant regression in some areas of human rights, particularly freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has overseen widespread human rights violations, including continuing military offensives against ethnic groups involving war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Ahead of Sunday’s election, there are serious concerns regarding the disenfranchisement of an estimated two million people who are unable to vote. Among them are the entire Rohingya people, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, and over one million people from 56 townships in ethnic areas where Burma’s Union Election Committee has unilaterally decided to cancel voting. Additionally, Burma is currently experiencing a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is proving far more severe than the first, and further complicates the elections by making voting more difficult and more dangerous. CSW’s Senior Analyst for East Asia Benedict Rogers said: “This Sunday, Burma needs a miracle. Over the past five years the country has lost many of the gains that had been made in terms of human rights and democratisation. We call on the Burmese authorities to ensure that Sunday’s elections are free and fair, and remain seriously concerned that some two million people, primarily belonging to ethnic minorities, will be unable to vote. Burma must do far more to bring an end to discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, including by repealing discriminatory legislation such as laws that limit religious conversion and interfaith marriage, and the 1982 Citizenship Law which denies the Rohingya people full citizenship rights.” Click here for further analysis on the upcoming elections from Benedict Rogers.

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