Sunday, April 20, 2014

Burma: Free and fair elections do not mean civil and political rights exist, evidenced by continued detention of political prisoners

For!the!first!time!in!decades,!Burma!will!be!holding!Parliamentary!by9elections!that!allows!
major!opposition!parties!to!contest!the!available!seats.!The!move!has!been!hailed!by!many!
in! the! international! community! as! evidence! of! democratic! progress! and! the! elections! are!
now! being! used! as! a! benchmark! for! lifting! sanctions! if! deemed! “free! and! fair”! by!
international!monitors.!!
However,!whether!the!elections!are!conducted!in!a!free!and!fair!manner!is!not!a!genuine!
reflection!of!the!level!of!civil!and!political!liberties!accorded!to!the!people!of!Burma.!There!
are!hundreds!of!political!prisoners!still!behind!bars,!and!those!who!have!been!released!face!
deprivation!of!fundamental!freedoms!and!extensive!monitoring!by!security!forces.!
What!matters!most!is!not!what!happens!on!the!day!of!the!elections,!but!how!the!campaigns!
are!conducted!in!the!months!preceding.!There!have!been!countless!reports!of!ballot!fraud,!
intimidation,!and!harassment!of!opposition!groups!that!show!the!elections!will!be!anything!
but!free!and!fair.!
We! call! on! the! international! community! to! not! be! fooled! by! the! charade! and! maintain!
pressure!on!the!U!Thein!Sein!regime!until!all!political!prisoners!are!released!and!concrete!
measures!are!taken!to!ensure!political!and!civil!liberties!are!enjoyed!by!all!in!Burma.

For the first time in decades, Burma will be holding Parliamentary by9elections that allows major opposition parties to contest the available seats. The move has been hailed by many  in the international community as evidence of democratic progress and the elections are now being used as a benchmark for lifting sanctions if deemed “free and fair” by international monitors.

However, whether the elections are conducted in a free and fair manner is not a genuine reflection of the level of civil and political liberties accorded to the people of Burma. There are hundreds of political prisoners still behind bars, and those who have been released face deprivation of fundamental freedoms and extensive monitoring by security forces.

What matters most is not what happens on the day of the elections, but how the campaigns are conducted in the months preceding. There have been countless reports of ballot fraud, intimidation, and harassment of opposition groups that show the elections will be anything

but free and fair.

We call on the international community to not be fooled by the charade and maintain pressure on the U Thein Sein regime until all political prisoners are released and concrete measures are taken to ensure political and civil liberties are enjoyed by all in Burma.

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  • Publisher: AAPPB
  • Date of Publication: 27 March 2012
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