Election Statement from members of the European Burma Network

05 Nov 2010

We, the undersigned organisations, do not believe that fake elections due in Burma on 7th November will be a meaningful step towards the promotion of human rights and democracy in Burma. We therefore call on the international community to unite behind a revived UN-led effort to secure genuine dialogue between the dictatorship ruling Burma, the democracy movement, including Aung San Suu Kyi and National League for democracy, and ethnic representatives.

The extreme repression and human rights abuses taking place in Burma make it impossible for elections to be free and fair.
•    More than 2,100 political prisoners remain in jail, including more than 400 members of the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy

•    Military attacks continue against ethnic groups, which the UN’s own Burma human rights expert has said should be investigated as possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

•    The National League for Democracy has been banned.

•    Strict election laws make it impossible for political parties to operate freely.

•    Voting has been banned in many ethnic areas.

•    The cost of standing as a candidate is more than the average annual income in Burma.

•    Media is censored and biased towards pro-regime parties.

However, even if the elections were free and fair, it would not bring real change to Burma, as a new constitution which comes into force after the elections is written by the military solely to preserve dictatorship. With 25 percent of seats in Parliament guaranteed for the military, it is impossible to change the constitution, as more than 75 percent of votes in the Parliament are required. Power will lie not with parliament, but instead with a new National Defense and Security Council which will be dominated by the military.

Furthermore, by refusing to grant rights and some level of autonomy to Burma’s ethnic nationalities, and instead seeking to extend control over ethnic areas by forcing groups on ceasefire to submit to becoming part of the Burmese army, the elections and new constitution threaten increased conflict and instability.

None of the reforms normally seen from a dictatorship beginning a process of change have taken place in Burma. Instead repression in Burma has increased.

Since 2003 the international community has largely focussed on trying to reform the dictatorship’s so-called roadmap to democracy. Not a single political reform or compromise proposed by the United Nations or others has been accepted.

The United Nations Security Council, United Nations General Assembly, United Nations Secretary General, the G8, European Union and many other governments have all stated that the solution to Burma’s problems lies in securing genuine dialogue between the dictatorship, the democracy movement and ethnic representatives. However, no serious coordinated effort to secure such dialogue has ever been made. The last serious effort to secure dialogue was initiated by UN envoy Razali Ismail ten years ago, but this largely excluded ethnic representatives.

It is time for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to personally take the lead in securing dialogue that leads to national reconciliation and a transition to democracy. He should have the full and high level backing of governments around the world. The excuse that we must wait and see what happens with the elections can be used no longer. Now it is time for action. The European Burma Networks brings together organisations promoting human rights and democracy in Burma, and works in solidarity with Burma’s democracy movement.

Actions Birmanie (Belgium)

Association Suisse-Birmanie

Austrian Burma Center

Burma Action Ireland / Gníomhaíocht ar son Bhurma in Éirinn

Burma Aktion (Germany)

Burma Campaign UK

Burma Center Prague

Christian Solidarity Worldwide


European Karen Network

Info Birmanie

Norwegian Burma Committee

Olof Palme International Center, Sweden

People in Need, Czech Republic

PES Stockholm

Socialdemocratic Students of Sweden

The Swedish Burma Committee

Burma Action Ireland

email: info@burmaactionireland.org web: www.burmaactionireland.org