Saturday, November 6, 2010

Myanmar (Burma) A travesty of democracy

Today, Sunday, say a little prayer for the people of Myanmar. The general election, which their military rulers hold, has all the hallmarks of a travesty. Nobody is laughing at this grotesque political show, except a few of the Myanmar generals and their supporters.

For the majority of the Myanmar people, the election is confirmation that they will have to further endure the suppression and tyranny that they have experienced over the last 40 years.

Anyone who loves peace and freedom should join hands in sending their message of condolence to the few people in the world who still live in constant fear.

A general election is supposed to give the people the chance to determine their own destiny. It allows them to vote leaders who they believe will take them to greater prosperity. Held periodically, elections are the most effective way of making their leaders accountable.

The people of Myanmar know this only too well. They voted the National League for Democracy (NLD) to power in the last democratic election in Myanmar in 1990. But the result was annulled by the military.

The NLD has been disbanded and its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been under military detention. Myanmar then lived under military control, but at least there was more freedom then than today.

The regime has done everything possible to fix the outcome of the polls beforehand, by excluding independent parties and public figures such as Suu Kyi who could upset the results. The election is not open for monitoring by foreign observers or journalists, which would have given some semblance of credibility to the process.

Indonesia, which is taking the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2011, must take the lead in condemning the election in Myanmar in the strongest terms. This election is being held in response to years of ASEAN pressures as a condition of Myanmar’s participation in the group.

The presence of a pariah state has bogged down progress for ASEAN’s dream of creating one single community in the region. ASEAN, under Indonesia, must take a strong position after Sunday’s election.

Expelling Myanmar should now be on the cards.

Today’s election is a travesty of democracy and a tragedy for the people of Myanmar. Indonesia, and the world, cannot simply sit and watch.
Editorial, Jakarta Post

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