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Emergency Petition to the United Nations General Assembly 2010
Emergency Petition to United Nations General Assembly 2010
We, the Burma Independence Advocates, call for the United Nations General Assembly 2010 to reiterate the resolutions on Burma adopted by the previous assemblies from 1991 to 2004 which urged the ruling military junta of Burma/Myanmar to establish democracy by implementing the results of the 1990 elections in accordance with the will of the people. The resolutions adopted by the assemblies from 1991 to 2004 truly reflected the situation in the country and aimed to resolve the decades-long political stalemate which started from the time the junta broke its promise and assurance of transferring power to democratically elected representatives of the National League for Democracy (NLD) as well as other ethnic representatives. The military regime not only ignored the desire of the people that overwhelmingly showed through the elections in 1990 but defiant to the international calls for the development of democracy. The regime has completely ignored the resolutions adopted by the United Nations and increased its oppression against political opponents, human rights defenders and promoters as well as ethnic minorities over the years. Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma’s struggle for democracy and the 1990 election winning party NLD, has been under house arrest for more than 14 of the past 22 years military rule. Currently there are more than 2200 political prisoners and some of the political prisoners are serving extraordinary long-term sentences from 65 years to more than 100 years. The military offensive campaigns against ethnic minorities especially the Karen in eastern Burma has been escalated over the years which created hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). The chance of returning to democracy in Burma is at a great risk as the country is at the brink of falling under a puppet civilian government installed by the military junta following the systematic political manipulation of more than 21 years. In March, 2010, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma/Myanmar called for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry on human rights violations in Burma/Myanmar. This call for United Nations investigation has been supported by the countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. The pro-democracy campaigners as well as the general public in Burma support the establishment of United Nations Commission of Inquiry against human rights violations committed by the regime. Although the UN led investigation on human rights violations by the military junta is important, another major obstacle that people of Burma needs to overcome at this critical juncture is the sham election which will be held on 7th November, 2010. This election is the fifth step of military junta’s 7-step roadmap to democracy which is a process designed to strengthen the role of military in politics and to deceive the international community that Burma is on the way to democracy. The whole process of 7-step roadmap by the regime is completely contradictory to the will of the people who voted for Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD). The new constitution was drafted unilaterally and approved through a rigged referendum
which guaranteed 25% military seats at all the Hluttaws or Parliaments (Assemblies) and the junta has made sure that the remaining 75% seats would be filled by the government party, Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The former governmental organization Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) was transformed as a political party and the members are former military officers including the current Prime Minister of the regime. The election is therefore a process that renews the military rule and a parliament composed of 25% military officers and 75% military officers in civilian attires will be convened. It is time for the international community to show its solidarity with the people of Burma by rejecting the junta’s sponsored sham election and calling for the return to dialogue with democratic opposition including ethnic minorities. It is important that the world remembers how the regime has deceived not only the people of Burma but the whole world over the years. Therefore, we, the Burma Independence Advocates have to remind the major scenarios of Burma’s crucial political situations over the past 22 years of military rule. The military junta, State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) took over the state power through bloodshed military coup in 1988. Following the coup, the junta officially announced on 18th September 1988 through announcement 1/88 that multi-party elections would be held. The junta enacted law number 14/89, Pyithu Hluttaw or People’s Assembly (Parliament) Election Law on 31st May 1989, which stated that free and fair multi-party elections were to be held to select members of the People’s Assembly (Parliament). This law states that the Parliament would be convened after recognizing the election results. At its 43rd News Conference on 9th June 1989, SLORC stated: "Presently we have two constitutions in our country; that is the 1947 Constitution and the 1974 constitution … The elected representatives can choose one of the constitutions to form a government, and we will transfer power to the government formed by them. We are ready to transfer power to the government that emerges according to the constitution. If they do not like the two existing constitutions, they can draw up the constitution …” Despite the restrictions on free expression and association that severely restricted campaigning, the ballot itself was conducted in a relatively free and fair manner on 27 May 1990. Elections were held in 485 Constituencies out of 492 and 15.1 million out of 20.8 eligible voters cast votes. The National League for Democracy (NLD) won almost 60% votes and secured 392 out of 485 seats. The ruling junta, State Peace and Restoration Council (SLORC) blatantly refused to transfer power to the election winning party NLD by issuing the Declaration No. 1/90 on 27th July, 1990 which stated that the responsibility of winning party was to draw a new constitution. By issuing this declaration, the junta broke its own Pyithu Hluttaw or People’s Assembly (Parliament) Election Law enacted on 31st May, 1989 which clearly stated that the Parliament would be convened after recognizing the election results. In addition, according to its statement at 43rd News Conference on 9th June, 1989, the representatives elected through elections in 1990 can choose one of the previous constitutions, 1947 Constitution and 1974 Constitution to form a government or to draft a new constitution.
The NLD drafted a new constitution based on 1947 Constitution and on 29th July, 1990 called for the convention of People’s Assembly or Parliament through its Gandhi Hall Declaration. However, the junta broke its own promise again by not allowing the NLD to draft the constitution. The process of drafting a new constitution was held under the name of National Convention which began on 9th January, 1993 under the junta’s strict supervision. The majority of delegates participating in the process were selected and appointed by the junta whereas only 15% of elected representatives were allowed under strict guidelines laid down by the junta. Only 107 out of 702 delegates were elected representatives and the process was tightly controlled and guided by the junta. The freedom of expression and debates were severely constrained and the elected representatives were not given their right to draw the constitution which was stated by the junta following its denial of convening parliament. The NLD requested the junta to allow more freedoms in constitution drafting process. Following the junta’s rejection of its request, the NLD withdrew from complete unfair process of constitution drafting in National Convention in 1995. Since then, the junta unilaterally drafted the constitution which would give an ultimate control of military in the political and state affairs. The National Convention culminated and the draft constitution finalized after 15 years in 19th February, 2008 following many recessions and a long adjournment. The constitution was approved through a referendum in May, 2008 which was denounced as a complete sham and rigged referendum not only by the people of Burma but the international community. Then NLD announced Shwegondaing Declaration in April, 2009 demanding that the junta release all political prisoners, accept the 1990 election results, review the 2008 Constitution, and begin a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi. However, the junta strictly adhered to its 7-step roadmap and prepared to hold an election in 2010. In March, 2010, the junta announced a series of laws required for the election in 2010 such as the Election Commission Law, Political Parties Registration Law and the election laws regarding to People’s Parliament, National Parliament and the State and Division Parliament. The enacted election laws are completely unjust and strictly bar the political prisoners including former political prisoners to participate in the election. Furthermore, the election laws stated that the parties that entered the 1990 election need to re-register under new laws and those fail to register must relinquish their legal status of a political party. Due to unjust and utterly unfair rules and regulations of the junta, the 1990 election winning party NLD decided not to re-register the party and to boycott the sham election which designed to elect a puppet civilian government. Although a few political parties registered for the election, these parties are facing severe difficulties such as high registration fees, lack of freedoms on election campaigns and unfair restrictions on campaigning activities. Nevertheless, the proxy regime’s party, Union Solidarity and Development Party has been vigorously campaigning for the election and fielding candidates in every single constituency while other parties can afford for relatively few candidates to enter the election. The junta is now ready to hold an election which is neither a necessary nor a genuine process of transition to democracy. Since its announcement of holding an election in 2010, the international community has called for the free and fair election which is fully participatory. However, such a call is indeed not necessary as Burma/Myanmar had a relatively free, fair
and inclusive election in 1990 which the people of Burma voted for the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). The result of the 1990 elections is still need to be implemented. The will of the people is still need to be respected. If the international community wants to see Burma/Myanmar becoming a truly democratic and developed country, the world must demand the ruling military junta to return to reconciliation process through a time-bound dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD as well as with ethnic minorities. If the international community wants to talk about a free, fair and participatory election, the world must talk about 1990 election and demand the ruling junta to honour the election outcome and transfer the power to elected representatives. We strongly believe that the international community must stand together with the people of Burma to reject the junta’s sham election and demand the military to honour the result of 1990 election. We therefore call for the United Nations General Assembly 2010 to reinstate the resolution which called for the Burmese regime to implement genuine democracy in the light of 1990 election.
Burma Independence Advocates 9th September 2010.
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