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Apr 18, 2008 (DVB), Burmese nationals in Singapore, Japan and South Korea have been invited to vote in the upcoming constitutional referendum, but say they fear retaliation from the Burmese authorities if they do not vote "Yes".
In Singapore, Burmese nationals were informed by letter that those who pay overseas taxes to the Burmese embassy will have the right to vote in the referendum, but were told they should vote "Yes".
"We have been informed by letter sent from the Burmese embassy in Singapore that every Burmese national overseas who pays tax at the embassy has a right to vote but that the government who wants them to vote ‘Yes’," one Burmese national said.
The letter said that Burmese passport holders will be able to cast their votes at the embassy between 25 and 29 April.
Burmese passport holders in Japan said the invitation letter sent via the Burmese embassy in Tokyo told voters they would need to bring a copy of their passport in order to vote in the referendum.
"I am worried that they might make a record of me and get me into trouble if I vote 'No'. But I am not going to vote 'Yes' either," said one Burmese national in Japan.
Ko Yan Naing Htun, information coordinator of the National League for Democracy (Liberated Area) in Seoul, South Korea, said Burmese passport holders in that country had also received invitation letters from the embassy to participate in the referendum.
"Burmese people who live here legally, such as scholars, permitted workers and government employees were sent invitation letters for the referendum," Yan Naing Htun said.
"A lot of people have said they might just cast ‘Yes’ votes as they are worried they might get into trouble if they vote ‘No’."
Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw and Htin Aung