Burma Cyclone

Latest News: Human Rights Group condemns referendum process in Burma by carpediemdg

(Via Sree Sreenivasan, Dean of Students, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism)

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Press Release

Masquerade of Democratic Process

Paris, 15 May, 2008 – The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Altsean-Burma strongly condemn the way in which the national referendum on the Constitution draft has been carried out by the Burmese military junta, in a climate of fear and intimidation.

Despite the major natural disaster, the Burmese authorities carried out the referendum on the new constitution on 10 May 2008. The referendum was held all over the country, except in 47 townships in Yangon and Irrawaddy divisions, which were affected by the cyclone ‘Nargis’. The military regime used security forces, police and local authorities to exercise pressure on the Burmese people and to maximize the ‘yes’ vote.

According to the information received, in many polling stations, there were no secure places for secret voting. Security forces, police and Swan Arr Shin members were present at the polling stations to intimidate the voters. Meanwhile, in some areas, the authorities openly threatened the voters that they would be punished with three years of imprisonment and 100,000 Kyats fine for casting ‘no’ votes. In many areas, the polling stations were closed before the official closing time of 16:00 hour, and as a result many people were not able to cast their vote.

According to Altsean Burma[1], an SPDC secret circular reportedly instructed all security agencies to be on high alert, monitor foreign organizations present in Burma, and prevent their free movement in the lead up to the referendum. The SPDC Army deployed troops in rural areas of Arakan State in preparation for the referendum.

FIDH and Altsean-Burma express once again their utmost concern regarding this masquerade of democratic process in Burma and calls for the opening of a national dialogue including democratic opposition and all ethnic minorities, on the political transition in Burma.

[1] http://www.altsean.org/Reports/Disaster.php :
The draft text of the Constitution entrenches the military rule in Burma: one quarter of the seats in the Union Parliament are reserved to the Armed Forces and nominated by the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services, and one third in the Region and State assemblies. Restrictions to stand for elections are excessively broad: In practice, such conditions prevent many members of the opposition who had to seek refuge abroad from taking part in the election. The conditions to stand for presidential elections are even more drastic and de facto exclude Aung San Suu Kyi because she has been married to a foreigner (Chapter III).

Press contact:

Gaël Grilhot
+33-1 43 55 90 19




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