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Key Stakeholders Explore the Reality on the Ground of Burma’s Military Elections

By Burma Partnership  •  November 2, 2010

Speakers representing central stakeholders in Burma spoke today about how the elections next Sunday will not improve the situation on the ground in Burma. They spoke about the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party’s (USDP) manipulation of the polls, the National League for Democracy’s ongoing efforts for genuine democracy, escalating attacks against ethnic nationalities and the resistance of students and youths against the upcoming elections.

Khin Ohmar, Coordinator of Burma Partnership and Chairperson of the Network for Democracy and Development (NDD), introduced NDD’s new report on the history of the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) and its transformation to the political party, USDP. The report, entitled Burma: A Violent Past to a Brutal Future; The Transformation of a Paramilitary Organization into a Political Party,” illustrates how the USDP is utilizing the capital and political power of the military regime to manipulate the election laws to their own benefit. Read the NDD’s press release and Executive Summary or download the report here.

Seventy-seven percent of all candidates in next week’s elections will be from the USDP, while only 23% are from non-junta allied democratic political parties. “This shows just how un-level the playing field has been in these elections,” said Khin Ohmar. “Even if those 23% independent candidates are elected, they will have no real power within the military-dominated parliament.”

Naw Htoo Paw from the Karen Women’s Organization spoke of the increased violence in ethnic areas. “The SPDC is telling the world that they are moving towards democratic transition, but villagers on the ground are preparing more and more to flee from SPDC military attacks,” she said.

“I would like to ask one question,” said Bo Bo, an activist with Generation Wave, an underground organization working in Burma. “Why hasn’t the military regime done anything good for us in the last 20 years? Why are there so many student and youth political prisoners in Burma? We don’t believe the military regime. They are lying all the time.”

Bo Bo went on to give examples of student and youth resistance inside Burma against the 2008 Constitution and next week’s elections, including pasting posters on buses and walls, spray painting “2010” crossed out with an “X”, releasing boats on rivers with messages, distributing flyers and anti-election songs.

A new short film entitled “This is Not Democracy,” produced by Burma Partnership and Kestrel Media, was also screened. The film shows why the people of Burma do not believe that the upcoming elections will bring any genuine democratic progress to their country. It is available to view online here.

Kestrel Media provides support to human rights organizations in training and assisting to produce more professional media to further their work.

For more information, please contact:

Khin Ohmar, Coordinator of Burma Partnership: +66818840772 or khinohmar@burmapartnership.org

Htoo Paw, member of the Advocacy team of the Karen Women’s Organization: +66811824018 or htoopaw@gmail.com

Bo Bo, Generation Wave: +66824081815 or bobo@generationwave.org

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This post is in: Press Release

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