04/07/2008, 00.00
MYANMAR

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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