Referendum: Voices of a Nation in Distress

Part-2

Kyaukpadaung and Poppa residents, Mandalay Division, Upper Burma (3.45PM)

May 10, 2008 (DVB) , ", They procured a lot of advance votes yesterday. As it is advance votes, no one wants to be blamed and many voted YES, When they opened the polling stations this morning, they just took as much as they could and they said to people you can vote whatever you like to appear to be honest, .

", At Poppa, the voting ended at 10 in the morning. They have been procuring advance votes for the previous seven days, with the people they trust, they let them vote in a room in accordance with rules and regulations, with their voting slips inside the envelopes. But those they don't forced them to vote in front of them. And those who are afraid of them were forced to vote in front of them, people are afraid and most of them voted YES, From the depth of their hearts, people want to vote NO, I can say it daringly. The reason is the intimidation is quite widespread, some people were ignorant and voted YES and some didn't vote saying what can we get from them by voting for them, "

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General situations (1.30PM)

May 10, 2008 (DVB) , ", In Karen State, Hlaingbwe, a polling station collapsed and eight people were hospitalised. It was not due to overcrowding but the shoddiness of the building. They are now in Pa-an hospital,

", At Mohnyin and Mokaung (in northern Burma), the situation is good; among the advance votes, only 30% voted YES, many people voted, it was researched by Mohnyin, Mokaung, Myikyina NLD members,

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Pyay/Prome resident, Lower Burma

May 10, 2008 (DVB) , ", Let me tell you what happened during the days before the referendum, They came to people's house to procure advance votes and local authorities forced people to sign, Then they told people, you have voted, you don't need to go to the polling station,

", Those who didn't look quite clever were told, do like this and that, auntie, and made them vote YES, It is not true that it will be a free and fair election (referendum), as they claimed, minister Kyaw Hsan said that it will be free and fair. Commission member U Thaung Nyunt said that it will be an international standard referendum,

", As they ranted before, they have to win even if they lose, it is like that,

", Some schoolteachers were wearing USDA uniforms and carrying out duties. That is not good, They are doing that because of the order from the top and they themselves are members of USDA,

", While the media and the like were busy with Nargis Cyclone, they did these pressurising and abusing of power while Nargis was blowing, During that time, they forced the whole villages, suburbs and downtowns (to vote YES),

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Kawa resident, Bago/Pegu Division, Lower Burma (4.30PM)

May 10, 2008 (DVB) , ", At every polling station, polling station commissions, USDA, local authorities and those responsible all told voters to vote YES. Most people are afraid and cast YES votes, all the voting slips inside the polling booths and in front of the supervisors were marked on YES. When people complained, the commission told people to tell anyone they like, We are reporting the actions of the commissions of the villages to the township commission, we will proceed gradually after thinking carefully, There are likely to be more injustice, the way they (the authorities) are doing, it is likely that they are going to be successful. The public is duped, "

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Pakokku resident, Magwe Division, Upper Burma (3PM)

May 10, 2008 (DVB) , ", There are 14 polling stations for 13 villages of Myitche District, Pakokku Township. The chairman of Tawchauk Village is Thein Htike. He told voters to cast their ballots the previous night. And he ticked all the ballots, YES, himself and closed the polling station 7.30 (this morning?).

"The chairman of Kyetsha village is Sein Kalar, ditto, he did as mentioned above. Like Tawchauk village chair Thein Htike, he told villagers to vote in advance last night. And they ticked them all YES and closed the polling station at 7.30.

"Ainche and Myoma, followed the rules and regulations,

"At Kaba Aye and Htanaungkone, the village chair told voters to cast votes in front of him.

"Setkyay village chairman Aung Kyaw Min threatened power cuts for weddings and funerals to those who vote NO.

"Ywatha Aye's chair Nyunt Win, and what we learnt from other chairs is, USDA and township chairs are told that they will be given a GSM (mobile) phone, if there is NO vote in their polling stations. Ywatha Aye's chairman Nyunt Win said that,

"There are 300 villages in Natmauk (Township). They also procured advance votes which are all YES votes. At Padauk Nguwa village, there were 15 NO votes and USDA members reported township chairman and he is not getting GSM and facing big problem.

"At Pakokku (Township) Kanma village, there are only two polling stations that procured advance votes. There, all the votes 100 percent are YES votes.

"At Yenangyaung (township), rules and regulations were followed where there are NLD members, but where there is no NLD member, advance votes were procured. And they told voters, if you want to cast YES votes give us here, but if you want to cast NO vote, go to the polling station. They manned the polling stations with police armed with guns and handcuffs, That's it."

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Pegu resident, Lower Burma

May 10, 2008 (DVB) , ", As you know, from our heart, we voted NO, because there are reasons we can't accept, at the polling station, there are local authorities, USDA members, and some people from the ward but I don't know most of them, not many people went there. Some people voted for the whole family, here, there is not much of it (intimidation). As they said, people are allowed to vote freely,

", At Utta ward, three NLD members went to see it, I was told. Yesterday, U San Maung Maung and the like were arrested, Dr. San Maung Maung. I heard that three people (got arrested), I thinks it is in connection with the poll. It is like they are being detained for awhile, like when they did before, "

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Meiktila female resident, Mandalay Division, Upper Burma

May 10, 2008 (DVB) , ", We cast crosses (NO votes). Most friends cast NO votes. Those who are illiterate and ignorant cast YES vote. They gave YES because they are ignorant and afraid. They told them that if they cast crosses, they will get three years, two years imprisonment and the like, they keep on threatening like that,

", if you tell them (the authorities) that you are going to cast a NO vote, it is like giving yourself a dead sentence, Because of this Nargis Cyclone people are being impoverished, hungry and in trouble. Where are the authorities? Where are the USDA (members)? When they were beating the monks, the USDA were there. Now, people are in trouble. The international community is saying that it will help, but they won't accept it. They themselves can't help. When U Than Shwe daughter got married, she received $50m for her wedding? Can't she help? Where has she gone? It has been a long time sine people want to express their feelings, where are the Sangha Nayaka (head monks) worshipped by U Than Shwe, where are they? The monks must help people. They have to go where people are in trouble. They must offer words of comfort and help people. Where are all the 'leaders'? We want this kind of thing,

", they are afraid that people will know about their callousness and don't let people in. They should not do that (not hold referendum). Whatever it is, they should help people who are in trouble, "

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Meikhtila resident, Mandalay Division, Upper Burma

May 10, 2008 (DVB) , ", I didn't cast YES vote, Yes, I voted NO, Most of my friends voted NO, To say the truth, there is not much of it (freedom) today, There is noting particularly for me to say as to why I did so as you know it already. My friends voted NO in three, five, while there is a disaster they should stop it the referendum, to say the truth about the referendum, I am not feeling satisfied, "

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Nyaunglaybin resident, Pegu Division, Lower Burma

May 10, 2008 (DVB) , ", As for lying/deception, they are doing it a lot, in order to vote, they give you a token with your name, your father's name and a serial number. And when you go to the polling station, they give you the polling card when you show them the serial number after looking at the list. When you get the polling card, you have to sign stating that you received it. When my wife and I went there, I found out that the space for signatures for both of us had been signed by someone else. I told them that they were not our signatures, why did you do that, I asked, and they said, it was our mistake, in fact, it seemed that they had already signed on our behalves and put our votes for YES,

", another way is as people have to go to work, while they were queuing, they (the authorities) would ask people to leave their tokens with them and deceive them. These people didn't even have the chance to see the voting slips or vote, some people were not allowed to vote, at some villages, people from women affairs (pro-junta) and the like sat waiting inside the polling booths and told voters to tick here, they are doing things like this in Nyaunglaybin Township. Similarly, in nearby Shwekyin Township, they took people's tokens and the local authorities cast YES votes for them. As far as I know, they are doing the same things, in villages of the surrounding townships,

", A lot of people go to polling stations. They were not interested before. Nargis Cyclone occurred. They (authorities) didn't behave like human beings. They are only doing it for the survival of their power. They went to the poll to protest, what I heard is they (the authorities) are not going to declare the results of the poll in local areas, the ballot boxes are to be sent to the townships

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