Activists reject Myanmar charter

Updated on Feb 11, 2008 06:13 PM IST
Pro-democracy activists warns the ruling junta could unleash a new wave of violence to ensure victory in a constitutional referendum.
HT Image
HT Image
AFP | By, Bangkok

Pro-democracy activists in Myanmar on Monday warned the ruling junta could unleash a new wave of violence to ensure victory in a constitutional referendum, urging voters to reject the regime's charter.

The junta late Saturday made a surprise announcement that it would bring its proposed constitution before the public for approval in May, setting the stage for elections in 2010.

If held, the elections would be the first since 1990, when Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory that was ignored by the junta.

The 88 Generation Students, a coalition of leading democracy activists, said the regime was trying to use the referendum to abolish the 1990 election results and legalise its dictatorship in the country formerly known as Burma.

The group branded the referendum as a "declaration of war" against the people, accusing the junta of planning to use security forces and state-backed militias to intimidate and even beat the population into approving the charter.

"The upcoming constitutional referendum will be a major battlefield between the military regime, which wants to rule the country forever, and the people of Burma, who want to be free from the military rule," the group said in a statement.

"The regime is attempting to legalise the military dictatorship with a sham-constitution.

"This is the declaration of war by the military regime against the people of Burma, who want to uphold the 1990 elections results and honour the will of the people," it said.

Many of the leaders of the 88 Generation Students were arrested in August, after they started holding small demonstrations in protest at an unannounced hike in fuel prices.

After their arrest, Buddhist monks began leading the protest movement, which swelled into the biggest challenge to military rule since 1988.

With more than 100,000 people in the streets, security forces launched a violent crackdown in late September, when the United Nations estimates at least 31 people were killed.

The group's latest statement, distributed by overseas activists, was signed by three of its top members who have been in hiding since the crackdown.

They said that the United Nations should take a greater role in mediating among the military, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the armed ethnic groups that have battled the government for decades.

"We also urge the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to visit Burma as soon as possible. He needs to meet with General Than Shwe," the statement said, while calling on western nations to tighten sanctions targeting the regime's leadership.

In Yangon, a pro-junta party urged Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD to accept the military's timetable for the referendum and elections.

"The people would suffer if (the NLD) goes the wrong way and organises some nonsense instigation" regarding the balloting, said Khin Maung Gyi, general secretary of the National Unity Party.

"They should have political maturity. They need to consider the real situation," he told a press conference at his party's headquarters, not far from the home where Aung San Suu Kyi has been kept under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years.

Analysts have warned that the junta's election promises will mean little if Aung San Suu Kyi and the leaders of the 88 Generation Students remain locked away, saying the polls could be a ploy to ease international pressure over the crackdown in September.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • A health care worker prepares a dose of Imvanex, a vaccine to protect against Monkeypox virus.

    White people get bigger share of monkeypox shots, early data show

    Much like with Covid-19, the monkeypox health crisis in the US is hitting Black and Hispanic Americans hard. Yet those groups are so far lagging in vaccination rates, early data obtained by Bloomberg News show. In some major US cities with outbreaks, White people are getting the majority of vaccinations, data collected by Bloomberg show. In Chicago, 55% of vaccines have gone to White people. In Washington, D.C., 63.5% of vaccine recipients identify as White.

  • Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani was killed in an attack in a seminary in Kabul.

    Top Taliban cleric killed in blast in Kabul: Officials

    A prominent Taliban cleric, Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani, was killed in an attack in a seminary in Kabul when the attacker detonated explosives hidden in a plastic artificial leg on Thursday, according to officials and Taliban sources. It was not immediately clear who was behind the blast. Four Taliban sources told Reuters the attacker was someone who had previously lost his leg and had hidden the explosives in a plastic artificial leg.

  • The Chinese action came less than a month after Beijing blocked a similar joint proposal by India and the US to blacklist Pakistan-based deputy leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba Abdul Rehman Makki. (REUTERS)

    China says it needs more time to assess US, India proposal to blacklist JeM chief’s brother at UNSC

    China on Thursday said it needs more time to “assess” the India-US proposal to list Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) leader Abdul Rauf Azhar as a global terrorist at the UN Security Council, hours after blocking the joint effort. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council has clear provisions about designating terrorist organisations and officials. China had similarly sought time to assess the case.

  • Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh on August 5, 2022. (AFP)

    China, Nepal agree on cross-Himalayan railway

    China has agreed to finance a feasibility study for a cross-border railway with Nepal under the trans-Himalayan multi-dimensional connectivity network, part of the Belt and Road Initiative and pledged $118 million for China-assisted projects in the country, the foreign ministries of the two countries have said. Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, Wang Yi said China will work with Nepal on power projects and also in building cross Himalayan connectivity projects.

  • File photo of Sri Lanka's then president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

    Sri Lanka's ex-leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa leaves Singapore: Report

    Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa left Singapore Thursday, the city-state's immigration office said, after his social visit pass expired. "The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority confirms that Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa left Singapore on 11 August 2022," the office said in reply to an AFP query. Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives on July 13 and then to Singapore, where he announced his resignation after months of protests over Sri Lanka's economic meltdown.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, August 11, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now