Burma Polls 2010 Sans Suu Kyi!

Is there any meaning for the proposed general election in Burma (Myanmar) by the military rulers, if Daw Aung Suu Kyi with other political leaders are kept out of the process? Not only the pro-democracy Burmese exiles, but also a significant number of international rights bodies believe that sans Suu Kyi, it will hardly make any sense for changes in the Southeast Asian country.

Several pro-democracy Indian and exile Burmese organizations came out with stronger comments on the Gandhi Jayanti (also the International Non Violence Day) that the forthcoming 2010 election has no meaning, if Suu Kyi and other thousands political prisoners are not released on time to take part in it; rather the election would pave way for permanent dictatorship of the present group of Generals in Burma.

Burma Centre Delhi on behalf of over 50 Indian and International organizations submitted an appeal letter to the All India Congress Committee chief, Sonia Gandhi, also the chairperson of United Progressive Alliance, on Oct 2 in New Delhi, where it was clearly stated that ‘There will be no inclusive political process or free and fair election in 2010 if Daw Aung Suu Kyi and over 2100 political prisoners are not released, and violations of civil and political rights are continued’.

The letter also added, “The elections in 2010 will make the Burmese military regime into permanent dictatorship unless provisions of (2008) Constitution are reviewed and amended in accord with the democratic principles and monitoring and intervention by UN and international community are allowed.”

The groups endorsed and supported for the restoration of human rights and democracy in Burma and immediate release of the Nobel laureate Suu Kyi, a living symbol of Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha and recipient of Jawaharlal Nehru’s Award for International Understanding with other political prisoners.

“Today, the 2 October 2009, on the auspicious day of 140 birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, also recognized as international non violence day, we take this opportunity to seek your kind attention to remember Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a living symbol of Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha and a Nobel peace laureate and recipient of Jawaharlal Nehru’s Award for International Understanding,” said in the letter.

Mentionable that since the election in 1990, Burmese democracy activists have been imprisoned, intimidated, tortured and put to death when they peacefully demanded justice, peace, human rights and a democratic government. At present, there are more than 2100 Political prisoners, many of them have been given jail terms for several years and some even up to 106 years without trial.

“We recognize Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as a true democratic leader of Burma. She and her party NLD won landslide victory in 1990 general elections but were never allowed to rule the country. The military junta crushed the people’s mandate and put her under house arrest for 14 of the past 19 years,” added in the letter.

M Kim, a New Delhi based exile Burmese pro-democracy campaigner recalled that during nationwide people’s uprising in Burma in 1988, the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi not only supported the people’s movement but also offered shelter to democracy activists to continue for democracy in Burma. Even the Indian embassy in Rangoon provided financial support to activists who were fleeing Burma to continue their struggle in India, Kim added.

The letter, signed and endorsed by 58 non-governmental organizations and advocacy groups like Burma Centre Delhi, All Burma Students Democratic Front, Arakan League for Democracy, All Burma Federation of Student Unions, All Kachin Students & Youth, Arakan Liberation Party, Burmese Women Union, Chin Students and Youth Federation, Burma Campaign UK, Chin Youth Conference, Chin Women Organization, Chin Human Rights Organization, Federation of Trade Union of Burma, Forum for Democracy in Burma, Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, Kuki Students Democratic Force, Kuki Women Human Rights Organization, Naga National League for Democracy, Naga Youth Organization, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Women Rights and Welfare Association of Burma, Women League of Burma, South Asia Forum for Human Rights etc, also urged New Delhi to join with UN and international community in taking actions for the release of Suu Kyi and to ensure reasonable democratic change in Burma.

Speaking to this writer from New Delhi, Dr. Alana Golmei, the coordinator of Burma Centre Delhi argued that the recent verdict on Aung San Suu Kyi has not only exposed the death of Justice in Burma but also shown Burma junta’s determination to stop her participation in the elections to be held in 2010.

She concluded saying, “It has made an obstruction to the process of national reconciliation in Burma. It is a complete negligence on international opinion and showing their will of undetermined to Democracy. Hence, we strongly recommend Government of India not to endorse Burma’s military regime’s sham constitution and election, as it will only lead to military entrenchment in the country.”

Nava Thakuria is a Guwahati (Northeast India) based journalist, who contributes to NewsBlaze and various media outlets throughout the world.