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2-8 January: Than Shwe Announces Elections as Planned

January 8, 2010

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We hope that the New Year finds you well and prepared for the busy year we have ahead of us!

Only days into the New Year, on the 62nd anniversary of Burma’s Independence Day on January 4th, Senior General Than Shwe confirmed the military regime’s plan to hold elections this year, warning the people to make “correct choices”. The junta chief failed to give a concrete deadlines or the date on which the people of Burma would head to the polls, a tactic that gives the junta-backed parties a head start in campaigning. In the latest attempt to win votes even before the elections have been called, the Union Solidarity and Development Association organized a free eye clinic in Momauk Township, Bhamo District, Kachin State. The clinic was attended by over one thousand residents, as well as Brigadier General San Htun, Vice-Commander of the Northern Regional Command. Meanwhile, the junta has denied permission for the National League for Democracy to convene a meeting to discuss the reorganization of the party.

Speculation about the timing of the elections has been mounting. Japanese news agency Asahi Shimbun reported that according to a military source, the junta is planning for polls on October 10th. The same source said that many current ministers would be resigning from their military posts so they can announce their candidacy by April, when the election laws will also be promulgated. The New York Times published a conflicting account that Western diplomats have received indications that the vote will come in the late spring or early summer.

It is already clear that these elections are going according to the junta’s plan: manipulation and repression are being meted out in order to ensure that the military and its cronies come out on top. These are not conditions under which elections can be free and fair. At the very minimum, the regime must release all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; engage in inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders, including a comprehensive review of the 2008 Constitution; and cease human rights abuses and criminal hostilities against the people of Burma. Only then will it be possible to hold truly democratic elections.

In Solidarity,

Burma Partnership Secretariat

News Highlights

Senior General Than Shwe’s election confirmation comes with warning

Military source reports that election date is set for October 10th

Inside Burma

Around 1,500 people, including foreign envoys and ethnic leaders, gathered at the National Leagues for Democracy headquarters to celebrate the 62nd anniversary of Burma’s Independence Day .

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Political prisoners’ plan to observe Independence Day in Myitkyina prison was stopped by jail officials.

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A Burmese journalist who contributed video material to the Democratic Voice of Burma has been handed a 20-year prison sentence.

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Two officials were sentenced to death and another to 15 years in prison for leaking details of military tunnels being built in Burma and secret junta visits to North Korea and Russia.

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Regional

The junta agreed to take back 9,000 Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh, after a meeting between foreign ministries in which Bangladesh presented the SPDC with a list of 28,000 refugees from Burma living in the country.

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International

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Senior General Than Shwe should set clear deadlines and dates for the 2010 election.

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Australian Senator Scott Ludlam called on Barrett Communications to stop selling high-frequency radio sets to Burma’s military junta, saying they are being used by the regime in its violent campaigns against ethnic minorities.

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Actions

Mon youth spray painted slogans opposing this year’s elections onto the asphalt along the highway from Moulmein to Ye town, Mon State.

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Activists in Sydney, Australia have launched a project called “Sunflower For Suu” that plants sunflowers worldwide to raise awareness about Burma.

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Opinion

Burmese junta already manipulating upcoming poll
The Nation

Burma will struggle for attention in 2010
By Francis Wade
Democratic Voice of Burma

Constitutional impunity for Generals in Burma
By Kay Latt
The Irrawaddy

Statements, Press Releases and Reports

All Arakan Students’ & Youth Congress: Statement on the 225th Anniversary of the Loss of National Sovereignty of Arakan

Assistant Association for Political Prisoners (Burma): Monthly Chronology of Burma’s Political Prisoners for December 2009 (need to upload)

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma): Press Release: Female political prisoner Tin Tin Htwe@ Ma Pae dies in Prison (English)

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma): Press Release: Female political prisoner Tin Tin Htwe@ Ma Pae dies in Prison (Burmese)

Generation Wave: Statement on Independence Day (Burmese)

Generation Wave: Statement on Independence Day (English)

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown: Letter to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

U.S. Department of State: Statement: Burma’s Independence Day

Reporters Without Borders and Burma Media Association: Statement: Appalling 20-year jail sentence for Democratic Voice of Burma video reporter

This post is in: Weekly Highlights