Activists to attempt elections uprising

An activist network will attempt to spark a mass uprising against military rule in Burma on Sunday, the day of the country’s first elections in two decades, DVB has learned.

Moethee Zun, one of the leaders of the 1988 student uprising which was brutally put down by the army, said the People Action Committee (PAC) believed it could succeed where the ’88 demonstrators failed. “We have no guns or bullets… but we have enough determination to end the dictatorship and restore democracy,” said Moethee Zun, one of the PAC’s seven leading members.

Sunday’s elections will not be free and free and will merely perpetuate the military regime’s rule, said the long-time activist and former deputy chairman of the influential All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF). “Major parties such as the National League for Democracy and ethnic ceasefire groups have been purged from the political process… they are being besmirched by the regime’s propaganda machine.”

“Only the USDP [Union Solidarity and Development Party] is campaigning freely, using threats, bribes and violence,” he said. He accused the military of blocking the activities of democratic parties, preventing them from meeting in public and denying them the freedom to promote their policies in the media.

The PAC has a central committee of around 50 members, including ’88 activists, MPs elected in the 1990 elections and ethnic leaders inside the country, said Moethee Zun. Each committee member has a network of activists within Burma ready to disrupt the polls, he said. The network would distribute leaflets and posters, make speeches, shout slogans, and attempt to start marches in crowded areas, he said.

The PAC has already started its activities. On Wednesday its members gave out leaflets in the Yuzana Plaza shopping mall. Tomorrow activists will campaign in 20 townships in Upper Burma, giving out t-shirts, urging the public not to support the election and demanding the release of political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi. Asked whether Suu Kyi would join the government if the uprising succeeded, Moethee Zun said his group had not held discussions with her.

But political analyst Aung Naing Oo, himself a former member of the ABSDF, was sceptical the group would succeed in its goals. “Democracy is a process…. Even if the opposition groups are able to kick out the military, democracy won’t come to Burma overnight,” he said.

In fact, the PAC was putting lives at risk by inviting a violent crackdown by the army, he said. “I have argued with opposition groups, especially people like Moethee Zun… that he is sending people to their deaths… They [the military] didn’t even spare the country’s most revered institution, the monks,” he said, referring to the 2007 Saffron Revolution, when the military brutally suppressed a mass uprising by Burma’s Buddhist clergy.

Asked if the PAC risked provoking violence in Burma, Moethee Zun’s reply was simple. “We are expecting that response,” he said. “We have no choice.”

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