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Burma's Lost 20 Years

Burma's Lost 20 Years

Press Release: Terry Evans

26 May 2010

Today is the 20th anniversary of the last general election held in Burma, when Aung San Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy (NLD) to an overwhelming election victory. Burma's new era of democracy was short-lived, as the military junta did not allow the NLD to form a government. Aung San Suu Kyi has remained under house arrest for most of the past 20 years.

Now Burma's ruling generals are set to hold new elections. But why reinvent the wheel, when what happened two decades ago remains unfulfilled? The simple truth is that this is an attempt to give a veneer of legitimacy to an evil totalitarian regime. The generals of Burma are in no mood to give up power, and are set to stage a fraudulent election, having already rigged the constitutional referendum in 2008. This perfidious scheme bars Aung San Suu Kyi and more than 2,000 other political prisoners from taking any part in this year's election. It also guarantees 25 per cent of parliamentary seats to the military, with control over key ministries. In addition, the commander-in-chief is given power to take over government during a state of emergency, and power of veto over future constitutional amendments.

The Burmese junta's manipulation of the democratic process has left the NLD with no option but to refuse to register for this patently unjust election. To do so would have required them to expel Aung San Suu Kyi and many hundreds of their jailed leaders and activists, and give credibility to an utterly flawed election.

The New Zealand Government must not reward or support Burma's ruthless military rulers. Instead, New Zealand should now be calling for an official United Nations Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and Crimes against Humanity perpetrated by the Burmese military dictatorship, as recently recommended by UN Special Rapporteur on Burma, Tomas Quintana.


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