Activist monks call for election boycott

An underground Burmese monk activist group has urged would-be voters across the country to boycott the 7 November elections.

The call was made by the All Burma Monks’ Alliance (ABMA) yesterday as proceedings get underway to mark the three-year anniversary of the September 2007 monk-led uprising.

“We are calling on the people of Burma to boycott the 2010 elections, which are intended to transform the military dictators into a legitimate government, by not voting,” said ABMA spokesperson Dhamma Siri.

The statement made reference to the 2008 constitution, which awards 25 percent of parliamentary seats to the military prior to voting, whilst it claimed that the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) will likely dominate the remaining seats.

Asked whether their will be more freedom for Buddhist monks under the post-election government, Dhamma Siri said it was unlikely. “There are a lot of interferences – harassments in a way – on religious affairs by the current coup government.

“They play nice and rough with us by utilising their power in many different ways, so there is no way the new government formed by this military junta will be good.”

The ABMA is formed of key players in the September 2007 uprising, which has come to be known as the Saffron Revolution in testament to the thousands of saffron-robed monks that took to the streets of Burma before a bloody crackdown on 26 September.

Calls for a boycott of Burma’s first elections in 20 years have been spearheaded by detained opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who is banned from competing and whose party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), was dissolved following its decision not to run.

There looks set to be 42 parties competing for seats in the new parliament, although the USDP, with nearly 1000 candidates across the country, has a clear advantage. In contrast, the National Democratic Force (NDF), which was born from the ashes of the NLD, will field 161, a figure significantly lower than the USDP but still a healthy one compared to other opposition and ‘third force’ parties.

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