Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
The landmark election is scheduled to conduct on Sunday, November 8, 2015. Around 90 political parties with 6,065 candidates, around 10,500 national and international election observers, and over 40,000 polling stations are set to play the role. This may not fully achieved what the people are dreaming of but it may give positive outputs to understand the public sentiments and the prevailing challenges in the country, once again. As George Orwell said when he was writing of his days in Burma, “…it is a corrupting thing to live one’s real life in secret. One should live with the stream of life, not against it…” Unfortunately, this is the social reality of the ordinary person, at least since the military took over the power.
Destruction of the social system of Burma was in fact the result of modus operandi, in which the seeds of the authentic dissidents were eliminated or otherwise dismantled. Ruling by monopoly became the driving force of the government. It has solidified arbitrary power to decide the fate of the ground area of 676,552 sq km (261,218 sq miles) and over 51 million people. Apparently, hundred thousands of people were forced to leave the country, or otherwise many were put behind bars as political prisoners. Thousands of them who raised their voices against the absence of justice were sacrificed in cold blood. This is what the country has harvested since 1962.
Analysing in detail about what went wrong in Burma since 1962 has being a subjective issue internationally; synonymously a large number of literatures were produced. Nevertheless, there is not a second thought; the military rule is producing the governance which is exactly the opposite to democracy, justice, freedom and personal liberty.
However, the assessment of the one of longest military rules in the region is giving a bitter taste to understand not only the painful social reality and systematical annihilation of personal liberty, but also the strategies the “government” used to remain in power.
First, the people dreamed of liberty, and then they came out into the street to flight for liberty. Despite achieving a positive outcome in such public non-violence resistance, the government was able to crackdown on the democratic unarmed protests and consolidates arbitrariness to abuse the state power and resources.
However, seeds of non-violent resistance against political frenzy never died. It was indeed well placed and rooted. The majority of people were waiting to enhance their support for the non-violent protest which can have a positive impact in the society to heal the rooted social epidemics.
It was 1990, the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory in the elections, but the military ignored the result. In 2011, as the result of long term national and international campaigns for Burma, the military handed over to a nominally civilian government following elections in the previous year.
The newly opening country Burma came to being in 2011. The majority of people never gave up their non-violent approach to resist the military government and it has created a spectacular view on those thirsty for democracy.
The Asian Human Rights Commission noted that the president accepted the loopholes in arranging the facilities of this landmark election. On one occasion, one of registered voters’ birthday was written as 1684. There were many such technical “mistakes” were reported not only within the country but also those who eligible of voting lives in abroad. There were more than 90 election related complaints made before the Union Election Commission, but the commission has not taken up a single case.
However, “I’d like to say again that the government and the military will respect and accept the results. I will accept the new government formed based on the election result,” the President Thein Sein told the public on Friday (November 6, 2015) while speaking hours before the two-month election campaign period ended. The words of the remarks were attractive, but it will be easy for him to accept the result if you were cynically manipulates the space where people can cast their votes. At least this what, we could monitor, when we looking at the common picture of the pre-election.
What does Burma need? Can Burma achieve her need while still having a 25% military percentage in the parliament? This election will not solve those rudimentarily political behaviour which is the creation of decades-long military predominance, which blessed by the neighbouring countries.
Notwithstanding, the election will give courage to the people to consolidate the long term divided struggle for the common cause. The common cause is none other than the establishing the principles of democracy which could lead the country to functional independent state institutions such as the judiciary, policing, bureaucracy, legislatures. Then it can ensure the personal liberty of people in the republic.
Establishing the principles of democracy relies on an independently functional criminal justice system. It is the most complicated but the most important interweaved fundamental issue the country required. The simple lesson taught by the history of the country is that, there is no substitute to the independent functioning of the criminal justice system based on lawful principles, when it comes to the democratic governance. The system is required not only to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate the crimes committed but also to understand the grave issues of society in general.
In such systems, victims will get a chance to say their part in the normal litigation and in the crucial proceeding such as bail, charging and plea bargaining. On the other hand, despite the “corrupted monopoly” played by the lawyers, defendants will have a chance to speak out. The culture of greater silence on right and wrong, pain and blame, truth and untruth, persuade and dissuade, will break. Morality will play the major role in justice. Absence of such a system has produced exact opposite to what the people are looking for.
The real meaning of opening up Burma is nothing but to start diagnosing the real constitutional crisis in dysfunctional system of the country, and start a public discourse on such core issues.
The AHRC is confident that such a debate is slowly but surely coming and there are resources to be allocated for ordinary people to speak up securely. In these circumstances, tomorrow’s election will be not just an event in the page of the history, but the decisive milestone which can decide the path of the present and future generations.
The AHRC believes that people will have freedom to express their political will, though the Government has already failed in many essential arrangements, and the government along with state agencies will ensure the public safety in this crucial time. The responsibility of not only the state apparatus but also over six thousands candidates and their respective political parties were laying on this notion.
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About AHRC:The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.