Freedom House Denounces Burma Election as an Elaborate Charade

Washington

The forthcoming elections in Burma (Myanmar) are fundamentally flawed and should be soundly rejected by the international community, according to Freedom House.
 
The lead-up to the country’s first elections in 20 years, scheduled for November 7, has been devoid of transparency and fairness. Two thirds of the candidates are members of parties backed by the military junta.  The National League for Democracy, the main opposition party, has opted to boycott what is largely seen as a sham election after election regulations would have effectively forced them to remove their current leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest. The remaining opposition parties have not received government funding and the media are heavily censored.  Additionally, there have been reports of voter intimidation, including threats that voters would lose their homes if they do not vote for the ruling party. The government has repeatedly denied access to international election monitors and foreign journalists are not permitted to cover the election.
 
“The lack of any real opposition or serious competition, along with the military’s refusal to allow the international community access to the country ensures that Sunday’s elections will be not be transparent, free, or fair,” says David Kramer, executive director of Freedom House.  “There is no doubt that this elaborate charade was designed to appease international critics and was carefully orchestrated to legitimize and further consolidate the military regime’s grip on power.”
 
In 2003, the current junta, led by General Than Shwe, put forth its “Roadmap to Discipline-Flourishing Democracy,” a seven step process, including the drafting of a new constitution, generally considered to be the path by which the junta could transition to a civilian government while maintaining power.  In May 2008, in a widely criticized referendum vote, the junta claimed 92% of the country voted in favor of the new constitution, with 99% voter turnout. 
 
“In the aftermath of this election, it will be more of the same for the people of Burma. They will still have the same old generals in shiny new clothes,” said Freedom House’s Southeast Asia senior program manager, Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn,
 
Burma is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.
 
For more information on Burma, visit:
 
 
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.  
 
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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