Voters formed queues at a polling station in the Muslim area of Rangoon on Sunday 8 November, eager to cast their ballot in the historic election.
Holding their hand-written voter cards, they waited patiently for their turn to stamp the ballot paper in queues that snaked around the schoolyard.
“The new leader is going to change what’s happening now, I think he or she will do his best to bring about the best for us,” said Twe Oo, a 55-year-old Muslim Rangoon resident.
International rights groups and governments have been critical about Burma‘s decision to not let Rohingya Muslims vote, or to allow them to field candidates, although their plight has been a hot topic in election campaigns.
Only a handful of Muslim candidates are running for parliament and are fielded from smaller parties. Not even the opposition, National League for Democracy has a Muslim candidate, citing “political” reasons.
“(Through these elections) we will see more change in the area of human rights. Our country will develop more. I come here to vote with the belief that our situation will improve, especially in the area of human rights,” said Mohammad Akbar, 38, another Rangoon resident.
Anti-Muslim hatred has sparked violence, most notably in 2012. The worst outbreak was in the western state of Arakan that year, where hundreds of the Rohingya minority were killed and more than 100,000 forced from their homes. The Rohingya, who number about a million, are mostly denied citizenship and are barred from voting.
Around five percent of Burma’s population is Muslim.
Read the full 2015 election coverage here.