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  • » 04/07/2008, 00.00


    For the Burmese junta, there is a "risk of attacks", but this is only a pretext

    One month from the constitutional referendum, the state newspapers launch a new campaign by the junta to defame the supporters of democracy in the country, who are described as "terrorists and anarchists". Worrying "exclusions" in the text of the new constitution.

    Yangon (AsiaNews) - Like its Chinese ally, Myanmar is also tasking with "terrorism" the supporters of civil rights and democracy, in order to further justify domestic repression.  In view of the referendum on the new constitution, scheduled for May, the military regime has opened a new campaign in the state media, warning of a concrete risk of attacks.  And although the new constitution has still not been made known in its entirety, and the date of the voting has not been specified, fears are growing that the junta has "revised" the text in such a way as to permit no constitutional modification after popular approval.

    Last April 5, newspapers like "The New Light of Myanmar", a government press outlet, wrote that "terrorists could set off bombs during the referendum".  There followed explicit reference to the members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest.  It is said that a plot was discovered following the arrest of an unidentified activist of the NLD, found last month in possession of explosives.  The articles warn that subversive elements "are asking for democracy while they commit terrorist and anarchist acts".

    The referendum is part of the military government's so-called "road map" toward democracy; but with time, this has clearly been transformed into a stratagem for buying time against international pressure.  Dissidents, Buddhist monks, and the league of Aung San Suu Kyi have all together called for a "no" vote on the new constitution, which will only reinforce the power of the generals.  And mystery continues to surround the text that the citizens will vote on within a month.  It seems that the document presents exclusions, which are probably not accidental, according to which future constitutional modifications would require the (unrealistic) approval of "the entire electoral body", instead of a simple majority.  Put in these terms, the clause would make the charter airtight, without leaving room for later modifications.

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    See also

    15/04/2008 MYANMAR
    UN: the referendum on the Burmese constitution will be "a ritual without real content"
    UN rapporteur Pinheiro emphasises that the opposition must be allowed to campaign, and international observers must be admitted to the voting. But he concludes that there are no signs of change. The constitution seems to do nothing but give an appearance of legitimacy to the military dictatorship.

    30/11/2007 MYANMAR
    Junta shuts down monastery close to pro-democracy movement
    Authorities clear the Maggin monastery, near Yangon, of its few remaining monks, who are moved to a nearby pagoda. Its abbot and several resident monks are still in jail for backing protests in late September. A well-known activist slams the generals for their hypocrisy.

    22/08/2007 MYANMAR
    13 activists arrested for protesting against hike in petrol costs
    The news carried by state media, reveals the junta’s growing concern of public discontent over rising fuel costs. The detainees are part of the “88 Generation Students Group”. Fresh protests planned

    13/02/2008 MYANMAR
    Referendum: the people support the 'no' vote; all religious excluded from the balloting
    According to "Generation '88" activists, the new constitution to be voted on in May is only another instrument to "enslave" the country. The population wants to vote 'no', but it is certain that the junta will manipulate results in its favour. The door-to-door campaign of the military to force people to come to the polls.

    16/04/2008 MYANMAR
    Junta arrests more than 20 anti-constitution activists
    The group was marching towards Sittwe, and were wearing t-shirts with the slogan “no”, in protest at the military’s new Constitution. National League for Democracy leaders among demonstrators.

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