Originally appeared in The IrrawaddyNovember 7, 2010
Demonstrations have been held in several countries across the world to protest against the general election taking place on Sunday in Burma.
In one of the largest demonstrations, about 700 members of 16 organizations, including ethnic groups, marched through London, condemning what they called the “sham election.”
One of the protestors, Win Naing, of the National League for Democracy – Liberated Area Europe said: “We strongly condemn this regime’s sham election and want to make it clear that this is a complete sham, and will not lead to any kind of democratic change that people want. The only intention of this election is to legalize military rule with a civilian front.”
The demonstrators said the 2008 constitution undermines federal democracy in Burma, ignores the agreed upon principle of ‘unity in diversity’ and effectively denies the ‘right of self-determination’ of the ethnic nationalities.
They also called on the international community to reject the result of the election and support the call for a UN-led effort to secure genuine tripartite dialogue in Burma.
“We urge the United Nations to use its power to pressure the regime to immediately enter into genuine inclusive dialogue to solve the problem in Burma,” said an ethnic Kachin activist, Duwa Mahkaw Hkun Sa, of the Kachin National Organization, based in London.
A group of about 500 Burmese dissidents in Japan also demonstrated on Sunday, calling on world governments to reject the results of the election.
One protestor, Than Swe, said: “This election is a fake to only trick the world. The entire process of the election is managed by the junta. So, we don’t accept the result.”
The demonstrators also called for the release of political prisoners and a dialogue to include all stakeholders, including ethnic leaders. Pictures of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi were displayed, and mock ballot boxes and copies of the 2008 constitution were set on fire.
In Thailand, a group of more than 40 Burmese activists, dissidents and migrant workers demonstrated against the election in the Thai-Burmese border town of Mae Sot, Thailand.
One Mae Sot activist, Htet Kaung, said: “We [migrant workers] don’t recognize the outcome of the sham election, which will grant no rights to the people and workers in Burma.”
In the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, about 100 Burmese activists and dissidents staged an anti-election protest in front of the Burmese Embassy on November 4. The demonstrators said the election will not be free and fair and called for an election boycott, said Thura Aung, a Malaysia-based activist.
Meanwhile, the Karen National Union (KNU) declared on Sunday that the election would bring neither change nor peace to Burma. The KNU said the election is being held merely for a cosmetic change—from the direct rule of a military council of generals to military rule behind a civilian façade—in order to legally continue the oppressive military domination and permit human rights violations against ethnic nationalities to continue.
In Australia, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the election was deeply flawed and was a sign of “heartbreaking” repressive conditions in Burma, according to a report by The Associated Press.
In a speech to Australian university students, Clinton said the United States would continue to support an international inquiry into human rights abuses in Burma.
“We hope that perhaps out of these elections some leaders will emerge who know that Burma has to take a different track and cannot continue to do the same thing and realize the potential of their people,” she was quoted as saying.
This post is in: Campaign Updates