By BosNewsLife Asia Service
RANGOON, BURMA (BosNewsLife)– Christian rights investigators have urged the international community to reject plans by Burma’s military rulers to organize parliamentary elections on November 7.
Election laws issued earlier this year and the country’s recently introduced new constitution make “any hope of a free and fair election impossible,” said Britain based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) which investigated the plight of predominantly Christian minorities in Burma, also known as Myanmar.
“With imprisoned democracy leader [and Nobel Peace Prize winner] Aung San Suu Kyi excluded, the election constitutes a whitewash for the ruling military junta,” CSW added, following Friday’s election announcement.
Critics say the new controversial constitution was introduced in a “sham referendum” following the 2008 Cyclone Nargis that killed an estimated 80,000 people.
“It provides immunity for the military’s crimes, guarantees the military 25 per cent of the parliamentary seats, and offers the ethnic nationalities no hope of protection for human rights. The laws also ban anyone with a criminal conviction, including political prisoners, from being a member of a political party. This excludes most leading pro-democracy activists, including Aung San Suu Kyi,” CSW said in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife.
Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), which refused to register under the new rules, was excluded from the elections and reportedly forced to disband. Aung San Suu Kyi years of house arrest was due to end in May 2009, but was extended for eighteen months after she was convicted for violating the terms of her house arrest.
Members of religious orders, such as the monks who led anti-government protests in 2007, are also denied a vote, observers say.
CSW said the world should pressure the junta to “engage in a meaningful dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy movement
and the ethnic nationalities.” Thousands of people, including the mainly Christian Karen minority, have been displaced in recent
months in an ongoing offensive by government backed forces, according to several human rights investigators.
CSW said it has renewed its call for a universal arms embargo to be imposed on Burma, and for the establishment of a United Nations
Commission of Inquiry, as recommended by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma Tomas Ojea Quintana, to investigate
“the regime’s crimes against humanity.”
Burma’s government has denied wrongdoing and described Western media reports about human rights abuses as “propaganda”.