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Groups around the world commemorate 1990 Elections

By Burma Partnership  •  May 31, 2010

Twenty years ago, on 27 May 1990, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory in the first multi-party elections Burma had seen for decades. However, the NLD and other winning ethnic opposition parties were never allowed to take power as a democratically elected government. Many opposition party leaders were imprisoned or exiled, while some died in prison due to torture or denied access to medical services. The results of the 1990 elections have since been officially annulled by the military’s election laws. Now, two decades later, the junta is set to hold new elections according to deeply flawed election laws that have rendered the NLD illegal due to the party’s principled decision to not take part in the military selection and legitimize the junta’s control. On the 20th anniversary of the 1990 elections, the NLD held a gathering at the home of party vice-chairman U Tin Oo to commemorate their 1990 victory. With 150 opposition politicians in attendance, the group reminisced about their experiences from 1990 until today, sharing memories and experiences with the younger generation. Aung Kyaw Nyunt, an elected representative, said, “Whether the NLD exists as a political party or not is only according to the regime’s rules. Our legitimacy as a party will not be hidden by history.” The group also planted saplings and gave monetary donations to NLD political prisoners, a sign of their social work activities to come. “We will continue our struggle for democracy and we will continue to carry out our political activities,” U Win Tin, co-founder of the NLD, said at the celebration. Meanwhile, Burma and solidarity groups mobilized around the world on a Global Day of Action, demonstrating their support for the NLD and other ethnic opposition parties. Groups in the Philippines staged a mock ballot in front of the Burmese Embassy in Manila. Indonesia featured a public seminar and the first parliamentary hearing in the ASEAN region on the 2010 military elections and 2008 Constitution. Activists in India held a public demonstration and “People’s Elections,” collecting over 3,600 postcard “ballots”. Groups in Mae Sot commemorated the 1990 elections with a ceremony, speeches and mock ballot. Activists in Japan and solidarity groups in Sri Lanka demonstrated outside their respective Burmese Embassies. Burma groups in Bangladesh held“People’s Elections” over several days. Activists in San Francisco, USA, celebrated the newly declared Burma Democracy Day on May 27th with a public demonstration. Burma activists in France held a demonstration and mock ballot at the Eiffel Tower. Groups in Sweden held a demonstration and public awareness event in Stockholm. Activists in London, UK held a public demonstration, a mock ballot, and also watched a play entitled “Once upon a time in Burma,” performed by Burmese youths at the rally. Details on other events around the world will be available on the website for the Global Campaign Against Burma’s 2010 Military Elections. A photo collection is also available here. In a press release today, the Ten Alliances denounced the watered down joint statement from the EU and ASEAN last week. The Global Day of Action showed that people around the world and especially in ASEAN countries oppose the military’s elections. ASEAN governments must take the lead in pressuring the junta to take the necessary steps to make these elections truly democratic.

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