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Mae Sot’s Global Day of Action

Originally appeared in The Irrawaddy

May 27, 2010

Nearly 200 people gathered in Mae Sot on Thursday morning as part of a global campaign against this year’s general election in Burma.

The event was organized by the Ten Alliances, a Burmese pro-democracy and ethnic rights movement, and was endorsed by more than 150 organizations worldwide.

“The military is not going to have a real election,” said Soe Aung, the co-coordinator of Burma Partnership. “They are going to formalize the military institution with this election. That’s why it’s very important that we and the international community absolutely don’t support or endorse this election.

“In order to make this election a real election, the SPDC must release all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi, cease all hostilities against ethnic minorities, start a dialogue with the opposition, and amend the Constitution,” he said.

The event began with a film showing selected speeches by Suu Kyi during her 1990 election campaign trail and other trips around Burma.

It was followed by speeches by opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party members who were elected in the 1990 election—20 years ago to the day since the NLD won an outright majority win at the polls.

One of the NLD members of parliament, and vice president of the “Members of Parliament Union—Burma,” San San, told the audience about her experiences during the 1990 campaign and explained why we she believed this year’s election should not be recognized.

Later, San San told The Irrawaddy she was against the general election because “it is based on the 2008 constitution, which will not help in the democratization of Burma.”

After the speeches, prominent exiled comedy troupe, Thee Lay Thee, performed a stand-up show mocking the military regime and the election.

In one skit, titled “Magic,” comedian Kyal Thee said the regime were better magicians than famous US magician David Copperfield.

“Burma has so many precious stones, jewels, gas, timber. But where have they gone? Where have they gone? Wow! That is magic!” he joked.

The audience was then asked to place a vote in imitation ballots offering two options: one was for a “Real Election” and the other for a “Military Selection.”

The voting cards were addressed to Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, the secretary-general of Asean, stating that it is “now more imperative than ever that Asean supports the people of Burma and our calls for a genuine federal democracy.”

“I don’t think Than Shwe wants to have a fair election because Daw Suu is still in prison,” said a “voter,” a 25-year-old migrant worker as she dropped her vote in the ballot box. “I do not think this election can help my country and my people.”

Masks were available for people who wanted to vote but did not want to be recorded by the media. The skeleton masks with horns had “No-2010” written on them.

In New Delhi, India, volunteers and NGO workers held an informal “people’s election and rally.” A People’s Election Commission was formed with church and community leaders.

Events will also be held between May 27 and May 30 in India, Sri Lanka, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, UK, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Italy, US, Canada and Brazil.

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