Enough has been articulated in these pages about the sham elections held in Burma on Nov 7. The Junta marginalised Suu Kyi and muzzled the media while banning elections in border areas to ensure a clean sweep. Initially we thought that Than Shwe would maintain some modicum of decency but that was not to be.
In the days leading up to the first elections held in Burma in 20 years on Nov 7, dozens of Burma border-based organizations with feeds from human rights organizations and exile media launched a website to share citizen reports of widespread abuse and fraud. Burma Election Tracker (www.burmaelectiontracker.org) shows detailed reports, eye witness accounts, pictures and video gathered through established networks of civic organizations operating throughout Burma. The site also provides ongoing analysis and recommendations.
The coming weeks will reveal more of the story as information trickles out of the country and the situation surrounding the expected release of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi develops. As the opposition mounts charges of mismanagement of the polls, the Junta choses to punish the perceived guilty. Rangoon Times has through this hard hitting article exposed the manipulations in their election diary.
On being queried about the fate of Burma post elections by a foreign journalist whether people see changes after the election as well, or is the process itself enough?, the take of people interviewed is simple:
“I think a lot of people are happy with the process itself. People are saying, “Look, whether things change or not, we’re having an election. Maybe this election isn’t the important one. Maybe it’s the next one that’s going to be in five years. Maybe that’s the one where we’ll see real change. Maybe this is just a test run, but this test run is really important.” So there are people who have that opinion… exactly what you just said, it’s just the fact that it’s happening.
And then there are some people who are really cynical about it and they say, “Look the vote is stacked. Just by sheer numbers. It’s totally stacked in favor of the USDP [Union Solidarity and Development Party],” which is the proxy party for the current regime. And people think that is just further entrenching the regime. And then there are other people who say a lot of the people who are running on behalf of the USDP don’t want to be politicians. These are people who were forced to be politicians. The USDP has a candidate running in every single constituency. There is not a single constituency that does not have somebody from that party running.
Release of Suu Ki would be a moment Burma has been preparing for. Would Than Shwe be intimidated and what checks and balances he will put in place is a big question.
Time argues as to what is next after the elections. Indeed, even before a single vote was cast, the polls were hampered by a host of roadblocks. About 1 million voters were disenfranchised when the junta decided in the weeks leading up to the election to cancel the polls in regions where ethnic minorities have been at odds with the central government. Meanwhile, as the votes are still being counted — fairly or unfairly — Burma is gearing up for another possible political milestone. On Nov. 13, the latest term of house arrest will expire for democracy icon Suu Kyi.
What is China‘s role in brandishing its form of democracy in Burma? This is a question which only Than Shwe, who is deeply inclined towards China can answer. Speculations are though being made about the growing role of China in infrastructure development, water harvesting, construction of dams, exploitation of gas and laying out the gas and transport highways allowing China to overcome the Malacca Dilemma.
These three analysis throw light on the state of affairs during the conduct of the electionsYangon: Army-backed parties to sweep poll HT, Myanmar preparing for Suu Kyi release TOI and thousands flee fighting in Myanmar TOI.
- Rebels clash with Burma troops after election (ctv.ca)
- “Pro-military poll ‘win’ in Burma” and related posts (rocketnews.com)
- Burma’s Suu Kyi ‘no strings’ release call (bbc.co.uk)
- Burma Refugees Return Home After ‘Sham’ Election (huffingtonpost.com)
- A date with destiny for Aung San Suu Kyi (independent.co.uk)
- Burmese election won by military-backed party (guardian.co.uk)
- Burma’s Suu Kyi loses final court appeal (cbc.ca)
- Letters: We must keep telling Burma’s story (guardian.co.uk)
- Aung San Suu Kyi may be about to go free, but for how long? (guardian.co.uk)
- Official: Myanmar to release Suu Kyi, timing is undecided (cnn.com)