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ျပည္သူေတြဆီမွာ လြတ္လပ္မႈနဲ႔ တန္းတူညီမွ်မႈ အရင္ဆံုး ရွိေနမွ ဒီမိုိကေရစီ စံႏႈန္းရွိတာ ျဖစ္ပါတယ္။

Myanmar’s generals take no chances on electoral overthrow

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The Vancouver Sun

Myanmar’s generals take no chances on electoral overthrow

By Jonathan Manthorpe, Vancouver SunMarch 15, 2010 12:06 AM

When the people of Myanmar, formerly Burma, were last given a chance to vote 20 years ago they got it wrong and tried to oust the military regime which, in one guise or another, has ruled the southeast Asian country for more than 50 years.

Within the next few months Burmese voters are going to be given another chance, and this time the generals are making absolutely certain that they get it right.

The junta, led by Senior General Than Shwe, has already spent 12 years, starting in 1995, crafting a new constitution that ensures that whatever mischief voters may get up to when handed a ballot, the military will remain firmly in control.

The coming elections may produce something that can be portrayed to Myanmar’s uncomfortable neighbours and an outraged international community as a civilian government. But it will be a sham with all the essential levers of power, the security and financial ministries, a bloc of seats in the parliament and the appointment of a president with the power to dismiss the whole lot of them firmly in the grip of the military.

If that was not enough, the generals last week started releasing specific election laws and regulations which make it clear they are still scared witless by Aung San Suu Kyi, the detained opposition leader, and her National League for Democracy (NLD).

Suu Kyi has been under various forms of imprisonment and detention for 15 of the last 21 years. She was already under detention when the NLD won about 85 per cent of the parliamentary seats in the 1990 election that the junta refused to recognize and has now legally annulled.

As the widow of a foreigner Suu Kyi was already barred from running in the next election, but the generals are so frightened by the political authority of the woman they can only bring themselves to call “the lady,” and the affection in which she is held by the vast majority of Burmese, that they don’t even want her eligible to vote.

One of the election laws published last week prohibits anyone convicted of a crime from not only voting, but also being a member of a political party. This disenfranchises Suu Kyi, and also hundreds of senior members of the NLD — including most of those elected in the junked 1990 elections — who have spent time in prison and who still make up the majority of the general’s 2,100 political prisoners.

The NLD has been given 60 days to comply with the new regulations and re-apply for registration as a recognized political party. As of the end of last week, Suu Kyi and the NLD leadership had not decided what to do.

They resolutely refused to take part in the 12-year-long nonsense of a “convention” to produce the new constitution. But until last week’s publication of the new election regulations they were seriously considering taking part in the elections on the grounds that it was a step, however feeble and flawed, towards a real civilian, accountable and representative government.

But with the shattering of that thin and weak shaft of hope, it will be hard for the NLD to escape the conclusion that its participation will give unwarranted credibility to this electoral nonsense and whatever gerrymandered regime it produces.

The junta’s brutish display of contempt for all the pressure, diplomatic and economic, that has been heaped on it over the years by both neighbours and the international community, including Canada, has produced both outrage and embarrassment. Europe, the Nordic countries, the U.S. and others have all dismissed the election laws and constitution as a mockery of a civilian political dispensation.

Even the Philippines, Myanmar’s fellow member of the 10-country Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), has called the upcoming election a “farce.”

At the same time a special United Nations envoy is due to deliver a report today recommending the regime be investigated for systematic crimes against humanity.

Tomas Ojea Quintana says the junta has failed to end human rights abuses such as the conscription of child soldiers, slavery, discrimination against the Muslim Rohinga minority in northwestern Myanmar, and the deprivation of basic rights to food, shelter, health and education.

ASEAN will feel especially embarrassed because when the organization defied international disapproval to bring in Myanmar as a member in 1997 it argued that “constructive engagement” would be more productive than sanctions and embargoes in changing the junta’s evil ways.

Most recently, even the new United States administration of President Barack Obama bought into this argument. His administration said that by moving away from Washington’s previous emphasis on isolating the regime, the generals would be encouraged to embrace democratic reform.

“We want credible, democratic reform; a government that responds to the needs of the Burmese people; immediate, unconditional release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi; serious dialogue with the opposition and minority ethnic groups,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said when the new approach was announced last September.

Well, the generals have given their answer and it’s time to think again.

jmanthorpe@vancouversun.com

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

March 15, 2010 at 9:34 am

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