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[ReadingRoom] News on Burma - 23/4/08

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  • CHAN Beng Seng
    1.. Cracks in constitution divide Myanmar 2.. The problem of being a good neighbour 3.. Junta s vote Yes media blitz appears to backfire 4.. Absentee voting
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 23, 2008
      1. Cracks in constitution divide Myanmar
      2. The problem of being a good neighbour
      3. Junta's vote 'Yes' media blitz appears to backfire
      4. Absentee voting in India; Burmese students fear repercussion
      5. Voting begins in Burmese embassy in Bangkok
      6. Junta minister donates to get support for referendum
      7. Poll shows Rangoon residents cool on Referendum
      8. NLD insists Suu Kyi must get chance to vote on May 10
      9. NLD: Special Statement No 6/14/ 08
      10. Residents have to cast "Yes" vote: USDA
      11. Junta's compulsive plot for pseudo-referendum

      Cracks in constitution divide Myanmar - Marwaan Macan-Markar
      Inter Press Service: Tue 22 Apr 2008

      Myanmar's military regime is under fire for the language in a new constitution to be approved at a national referendum on May 10. The full text of the charter was made public only a month ahead of the plebiscite.

      Articles that have aroused anger deal with attempts by the junta to legitimize its role as the supreme political authority in the troubled country. Such clauses make the constitution's promise of a new democratic landscape meaningless, say critics.

      Article No 445 tops the list of concerns for the Burma Lawyers' Council (BLC) and groups like the US-based Global Justice Center (GJC). "No legal action shall be taken against those (either individuals or groups who are members of SLORC and SPDC) who officially carried out their duties according to their responsibilities," states this article.

      Tha SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) and the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) are the official names the governing arm of the regime has been known by since military leaders staged a power-grabbing coup in 1988. The regime that it overthrew was itself military-based and had come to power following a 1962 coup.

      "That clause is to provide immunity to the junta for all the human rights violations it has committed since 1988," says Aung Htoo, general secretary of the BLC. "The new constitution will be meaningless if the perpetrators of violence can enjoy immunity after it is approved. What is the difference for the people, who are the victims? Nothing."

      It also undermines the hope of Myanmar transforming from a dictatorship to a democracy, he explained in an interview. "A constitution for a post-conflict society has to give justice and genuine national reconciliation a priority. That is what happened in South Africa. But the new constitution offers little to move Burma [Myanmar] away from its current conflicts."

      On Monday, the BLC and GJC issued a statement denouncing the military regime for trying to evade "criminal prosecution" through the constitution. "There is ample evidence that the military regime has committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and potentially even genocide through forced relocations, torture, rape, enforced disappearance and extermination," they said.

      Leaders of the Myanmar's ethnic communities are perturbed that the junta's much-vaunted promise to create regional assemblies through the constitution amounts to essentially toothless legislative bodies. The new charter is set to create 14 assemblies in areas that are home to the major ethnic groups, marking the first offer of political space to the non-Burmese minorities since the country gained independence from the British in 1948.

      "The regional assemblies will be under the junta, which has the power to appoint a fourth of the members and the chief minister for the region," says David Taw, joint general secretary of the Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC), an umbrella body for the seven major ethnic groups. "Most of the people would like to choose their own chief minister through a ballot."

      The space for economic activity to meet the needs of the ethnic communities is also restrained, Taw added in an interview. "The local people will not be able to pursue their economic activity freely. It is a setback to our hope of achieving a federal system of government."

      The unresolved question of genuine political representation for Myanmar's ethnic communities has dogged the country since independence, resulting in bloody separatist conflicts that have lasted over six decades. "The attempt to adopt a constitution to lengthen the military dictatorship will [create] more problems," the ENC declared in a recent statement. "It will also lengthen the 60-year-long civil war caused by breaching the self-determination rights of the ethnic nationalities."

      The current constitution has been 15 years in the making. Some say the delay was created by the junta to stall the country's democratic parties, led by detained Aung San Suu Kyi, in claiming a stake in running the country. The junta refused to recognize the outcome of a parliamentary election in 1990, which Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won in a landslide. Instead, the military created a national convention soon after to draft a new constitution.

      The current charter is Myanmar's third, following the 1947 document, which was drafted by the country's resistance fighters ahead of independence from British colonialism, and the 1974 document, which was shaped by the military dictator at the time, General Ne Win.

      The second constitution, which established a one-party state to promote a socialist agenda, was torn up in 1988 by the current military regime. Consequently, the SLORC and SPDC governed without constitutional authority and were seen as lacking political legitimacy by a domestic and a growing international constituency.

      The only advance the new constitution has made over the 1974 document is its promise to create a multi-party democracy. But the prospect of such inclusive features has been undermined by the junta's move to limit the drafting of the charter to military-appointed delegates and its harsh restrictions on public discussion of the document.

      "The military has made sure that any amendments to the constitution introduced by political parties in the future will be harder to be approved," says Aung Naing Oo, an independent Myanmar political analyst living in exile in Thailand. "The conflict in the country will go on without the prospect of change and improvement."

      The likelihood of the constitution adding to the political fires already burning in Myanmar arises from the deep divisions that plague the country. "Burma is a different country today than it was in 1974. When the constitution was passed then, we were not so divided," Aung Naing Oo added. "Now it is different, and now the entire world is also watching."

      The junta, for its part, appears confident that it has drafted the best constitution for Myanmar. "Approving the constitution is the responsibility of all citizens in the country. All who support our national interests must vote in favor," declared the page-one headline of a state-run newspaper on the week the referendum campaign was officially launched.

      The problem of being a good neighbour [Editorial]
      The Nation (Thailand): Tue 22 Apr 2008

      Thailand must stop pandering to the Burmese junta and do more to bring positive change

      Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein is coming to Thailand for a two-day visit next week. His purpose is to strengthen ties and forge closer economic and development cooperation. Indeed, it is a good time to tell the visiting guest what our country has in mind about his junta. First of all, our government should stop pandering to Burmese wishes. Both under the Thaksin government and the current one, Thailand has been acting like a marionette for the Burmese junta. Our leaders are often ready to defend Burma at all costs, whenever need be. When PM Samak Sundaravej visited Burma, he came back making world headlines with his comments. He said the Burmese leaders meditate and the country lives in peace. Normally any leader of a peaceful country would not kill monks. Samak's comments showed how naive our leaders can be. His observation sent shock waves throughout the world and immediately turned him into a joke. But that has not stopped him commenting on foreign affairs.

      Secondly, Thailand should impress on Burma democratic lessons. People must be free to speak up and vote without any imposition by the state. Moreover, the Burmese media must be given liberty to report the truth. The authorities must stop intimidating voters to vote "yes" for the referendum, which aims to give power to the military. Thailand must not behave like South Africa, which has refused to condemn Robert Mugabe and the atrocities he has committed. We must not turn a blind eye towards Burma. Unfortunately, Samak is following South African president Thabo Mbeki by rendering support to junta leaders condemned throughout the world.

      Thirdly, Thailand must continue to engage the international community to help end the Burmese quagmire. Since the 1988 pro-democracy crackdown, Thailand has been on the receiving end of problems created by the junta. Just look at the recent 54 deaths of Burmese migrant workers. The Thai side should be blamed for taking bribes, including those accomplices at the border. But we have to tackle the root cause of the current malaise in Burma, where the junta rules without consent. It is amazing how Thai leaders can become so timid when dealing face-to-face with the junta leaders.

      Thailand must support the UN and its current effort to find a solution to the Burmese quagmire. We should encourage UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to tackle this issue more seriously. He missed a good chance when he was here earlier this year but failed to go to Burma. He went to Africa to make his presence and concern felt on Mugabe. Why can't he do the same in this part of the world? His special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari was useless in delivering international concerns to the junta leaders.

      Of course, the Thai authorities would immediately argue that it is difficult for Thailand to get tough on Burma. Both countries share a long common border and Thailand depends on imported energy from Burma. Pending dam construction along the Salween River will provide much-needed hydro-electricity in the future. We also need cheap Burmese labour. Over three million Burmese sweat to promote the Thai livelihood. So goes the conventional wisdom which impairs Thailand's sense of good judgement. We have mistreated the Burmese labourers. Worse, we are colluding with the junta under the disguise of bilateral cooperation to suppress democracy in Burma. Quite a few economic cooperation plans are in place, which benefit the junta more than the people. This government still promotes interests that benefit the regime.

      It is a shame for Thailand, as a front-line state, to behave the way it has done all these years. So, when Thein Sein and his team come to town next Tuesday, let us be bold and tell it like it is. It cannot get worse than this.

      Junta's vote 'Yes' media blitz appears to backfire - Wai Moe
      Irrawaddy: Tue 22 Apr 2008

      The junta has launched a daily media campaign designed to promote "Yes" votes during the May 10 constitutional referendum, but evidence is mounting its pro-constitution blitz has convinced many people to vote "No."

      The state-run The New Light of Myanmar said in a front-page headline on Tuesday, "To approve the State Constitution is a national duty for all people. Let us all cast 'Yes' votes in the national interest."

      A back-page headline said, "Let everyone who loathes foreign interference and manipulation and who opposes puppet governments with colonialist strings vote 'Yes' for ratification of the Constitution."

      Meanwhile, members of the pro-junta mass organization Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) and local authorities, wearing T-shirts with pro-constitution messages, are distributing pamphlets in a vote "Yes" campaign across the country.

      The regime recently started broadcasting pro-constitution propaganda on state-run television programs.

      Sources told The Irrawaddy that most people are now more determined than ever to vote "No" because of the junta's "Yes" campaign via state-run-media and mass organizations.

      "People are annoyed by the propaganda on state-TV and in newspapers. The military rulers urge people to vote 'yes' in the referendum," said a Rangoon businessman. "But now more people will vote against the constitution because they just dislike the juntas that have misruled the country for more than four decades.

      "The newspapers and TVs say everyone who is a patriot should vote 'yes.' The junta always uses the old ghost of neo-colonialism. But people aren't scared of the old ghost. They're only afraid of the juntas that have run the country down to the last place in the world."

      A Rangoon student cited the junta's failed anti-American propaganda campaign in past years. "The junta ran a lot of anti-American stories in its media," she said. "Then the Burmese people turned pro-American, not because people know much about the US but because people hate the junta."

      A government worker in Rangoon said, "If the junta just told people to vote on referendum day, it would be better for the junta. Now it's very weird that we see their odd propaganda in newspapers and TV."

      Htay Aung, a Burmese political analyst, cited a lesson in Burmese history - in the 1960 election, the military led by Gen Ne Win urged people to vote for the military-backed party, but people rejected that party.

      "Now the military junta does the same thing again," he said. "The junta's current propaganda seems a challenge to the people. It's human nature for people to think the opposite way."

      However, a Burma observer, Mikael Gravers of Aarus University in Denmark, took a more pessimistic view about the referendum's outcome, saying, "The most important thing is not to create worries and conflicts over a yes or no vote, because there is no difference, and there will be no significant change in the power relations."

      Meanwhile, pro-democracy activists have been attacked and harassed by pro-junta thugs because of their opposition to the constitution. In early April, a leading human rights activist, Myint Aye, and a member of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Tin Yu, were separately attacked in Rangoon.

      Last week, members of the NLD, Thi Han and Win Thein, were beaten by thugs with batons and another NLD member, Tin Win, was arrested for wearing "No" message on his T-shirt. Copies of an NLD statement urging people to vote against the constitution were seized by authorities in several locations.

      Burmese embassies have told Burmese citizens who live abroad that they can vote absentee at embassies. Absentee voting is underway at Burmese embassies in South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia. In Singapore, the Burmese embassy announced on Tuesday that only Burmese citizens in Singapore who have paid their Burmese taxes at the embassy may vote absentee.

      Absentee voting in India; Burmese students fear repercussion
      Mizzima News: Tue 22 Apr 2008

      Absentee voting in the military junta's referendum for Burmese citizens in India will commence this weekend. This was declared by the Burmese embassy in New Delhi.

      An official at the Burmese embassy in New Delhi told Mizzima that Burmese citizens with valid documents in India are invited to cast their votes at the embassy premises from April 25 to 27.

      He, however, declined to mention the procedure and the number of Burmese citizens eligible for voting, and disconnected the telephone.

      The announcement of the Burmese embassy in New Delhi is part of the Burmese junta's referendum process, which will be held on May 10.

      A Burmese student studying in one of India's universities who received the invitation, however, expressed apprehension that casting a 'No' vote might have repercussion on continuing his studies.

      "We are unaware of the process to be followed in India. I fear that the officials might find out the vote we cast and it would have repercussions on my studies," said the student, who is studying for a degree in Political Science.

      His honest choice would be casting a 'No' vote, but he said "I have not decided what to do and I would also like to study the draft constitution first."

      Another problem, he said, was that there are only a few Burmese students in India and they could be easily identified if they cast a 'No' vote.

      According to him, a rough estimate would suggest that there are about a hundred Burmese students studying in India with valid permits.

      Meanwhile, Burmese embassies in other countries including Japan, Singapore and Malaysia have also announced to hold similar absentee voting on the junta's draft constitution.

      The Burmese embassy in Thailand has begun the process of absentee voting today and will continue until 27 April.

      Voting begins in Burmese embassy in Bangkok
      Mizzima News and Monnews: Tue 22 Apr 2008

      Burmese citizens in Thailand desirous of voting in the referendum to approve the draft constitution of the military junta can vote at the Burmese embassy in Bangkok starting today.

      The Burmese Embassy in Bangkok said, Burmese passport holders will be eligible to vote and can cast their ballot from April 22 to 27 between 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

      An embassy staff told Mizzima voters who want to vote must bring their passports and ID cards with them to the embassy in Bangkok, which will be the only polling booth across the country.

      "Our staffs will be present at the embassy gate. They will explain the voting procedure to eligible voters," she added.

      The absentee voting at Bangkok Embassy began today as part of the Burmese junta's planned referendum on a draft constitution, which it has announced to hold on May 10 in Burma.

      A voter, who had cast the vote at the Embassy told Mizzima that there were not too many voters coming on Monday and embassy officials were present to checked for the voters' passports and identity cards.

      "Our names and ID numbers have already been printed on the voters list. They checked our ID number against the voters list and issued a ballot paper and an envelope," the voter said.

      "There were three persons present. They kept a counterfoil of the ballot paper with them as a proof of votes being cast. There are ball pens and glue in the voting room behind the curtain. We can tick on the ballot paper 'Yes' or 'No'. Then put our ballot paper inside the envelope and put the envelope into the ballot box," a voter who had cast the vote at the embassy told Mizzima.

      Lack of information on the voting process has thrown off many voters. Many learned about the implications of their votes only after it was cast.

      "They did not explain how to vote it. We were given a piece of paper with the words "This draft constitution" written in Burmese, followed by a blank space. It was quite confusing," said a student who voted today.

      A migrant worker with a work permit who voted today had this to say: "I didn't know how to vote so I asked the officer for help. All he said was, Put a tick or a cross. He wasn't very helpful. I thought it is better to agree, so I put a tick in the space."

      Activist claims it is a deliberate ploy on part of the authorities to keep the electorate uninformed in the hope that will end up voting in favour of the constitution.

      Voting began in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur on April 19 and will continue till to April 27. An estimated 500,000 Burmese people currently living in Malaysia, of whom about 180,000 possess legal documents.

      Similarly, in Japan, the Burmese embassy announced that an absentee voting will be held from April 26 to 27 starting from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

      "We have sent invitations to all eligible voters. We cannot say how many voters will turn up at the polling station," an embassy staff in Japan told Mizzima.

      In Singapore, voters are informed that they can come to the embassy beginning on April 25 to 27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m to cast their votes.

      An activist in Singapore said they would distribute 'No' campaign T-shirts and caps to the voters on April 27 of this month.

      "We have made 750 T-Shirts and 1,000 caps for that day. Some donated drinking water bottles. Doctors, nurses and ambulance will be available for emergency medical care. We want to send our 'No' vote campaign message to voters," he said.

      Meanwhile, Burmese embassies around the world are reportedly making arrangements for polling stations, where Burmese passport holders who are working and studying abroad can cast their votes in the referendum to approve the constitution drafted by the junta.

      While Burmese citizens are spread in various countries including western nations, bulks of Burmese are found to be working in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan.

      Junta minister donates to get support for referendum - Maung Dee
      Mizzima News: Tue 22 Apr 2008

      In a bid to win support for the draft constitution, Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win is alleged to have made a donation to a school in Zegone township of Pegu division north of Rangoon.

      Nyan Win reportedly donated 4 million kyat (USD 3636) for repairing of a middle school in Laedwinywa village in the township. Villagers are concerned the donation might be motivated. In the past, the foreign minister had seldom shown any interest in rural development.

      "If he was really interested in development in rural areas, he would have come earlier. It is obvious he wants the villagers to support the constitution and using the donation to get it," another resident of Zegone said.

      Residents in Zegone said, the Burmese Foreign Minister arrived on April 13 and visited several surrounding towns and villages urging local people and authorities to support the constitution.

      "He said, a long time has been spent writing the draft constitution, if we do not approve it now, more time will have to be spent writing another draft. So, he asked people to support it," a resident of Zegone told Mizzima.

      Nyan Win was appointed Foreign Minister in late 2004 after the death of the previous foreign minister Win Aung along with the junta's Military Intelligence Chief Khin Nyunt. He is reportedly a native of Kannyiako village in Zegone Township in Pegu division.

      Despite campaigns by the junta's minister, a local resident of Zegone town said copies of the draft constitution were made available only today at a price of 1000 Kyat (less than USD 1) per copy. "A 1000 kyat is still expensive for us, nobody could afford it. So, only a few will be able to buy the draft constitution," said a Zegone resident.

      Poll shows Rangoon residents cool on Referendum
      Irrawaddy: Tue 22 Apr 2008

      With less than three weeks to go until Burmese get a chance to vote on a constitution drawn up by the country's military rulers, a new poll conducted by Irrawaddy correspondents in Rangoon shows that residents of Burma's largest city are less than enthusiastic about their first chance to cast a ballot in nearly two decades.

      Sixty-seven, or 44.7 percent, of the 150 Rangoon residents who responded to the survey said that they had not yet decided how they would vote, or were uninterested in the referendum.

      The number who said they would vote against the constitution, meanwhile, was 62, or 41.4 percent, while fewer than seven percent of those polled said they would vote in favor of the constitution.

      Slightly more than seven percent declined to respond to the question: "Will you vote "yes" or "no" in the upcoming referendum on the draft constitution?"

      The poll was directed at a wide cross-section of Burmese society, including laborers, street vendors, students, professionals, civil servants, members of the armed forces and retirees. None of the interviewees were politicians or activists.

      Nearly half of those polled - 70 out of 150 - were described as working class, of whom 41, or 58.5 percent, said they were undecided or not interested in voting.

      This group also had the largest number of "yes" votes, with nearly 13 percent saying they would support the draft constitution. Almost 29 percent said they would vote against it.

      The only other "yes" vote came from an elderly respondent. Around three-quarters of interviewees aged over 65 said they did not intend to vote in the referendum, while 25 percent said they would vote "no."

      More than two-thirds of educated professionals said they would vote against the constitution, while the remaining third was undecided. Ten out of 10 students who were interviewed said they would reject the junta's charter.

      Journalists were similarly unanimous in their rejection of the constitution, with all 10 respondents saying they would vote "no."

      "I will vote 'no' because the constitution was not written by representatives of the entire nation, including leaders of the national races and members of parliament elected in the 1990 election," said one Rangoon-based editor.

      Two civil servants and nine members of the armed forces who were interviewed by The Irrawaddy would not say how they intended to vote. One of the civil servants, a health ministry official, said that the government had ordered all public employees to cast a "yes" vote, adding that senior officials had also been instructed to read the constitution, copies of which have been distributed to government ministry offices since March.

      Military personnel from Light Infantry Battalion 106 and Infantry Battalion 16 said that their commanders had ordered them to vote "yes." Most of the rank-and-file soldiers said that they didn't understand the text of the constitution.

      NLD insists Suu Kyi must get chance to vote on May 10 - Saw Yan Naing
      Irrawaddy: Tue 22 Apr 2008

      Burma's main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, has called on the regime to make sure political detainees, including NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, can vote in the constitutional referendum on May 10.

      The referendum states that detainees who have not been convicted are allowed to cast their votes in the referendum. But NLD spokesman Nyan Win told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday the party was still worried that political prisoners may find themselves disenfranchised.

      An NLD statement issued on Monday called on the authorities to compile lists of detainees who had not been convicted and to make sure they were allowed to vote. Some prisons had begun compiling lists, he said.

      Win Maung, father of detainee Pyone Cho, a member of the 88 Generation Students group, said the authorities running Rangoon's Insein Prison had collected the names of unconvicted political prisoners there, including members of the 88 Generation Students group.

      More than 30 members of the 88 Generation Students group, including its well-known leaders Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi, Htay Kywe and Min Zeya, are being held in Insein prison, said Tate Naing, secretary of the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), AAPP.

      They were arrested in August 2007 while demonstrating against sharp increases in the prices of fuel and other essentials.

      Many are reported to be in ill health. The latest to arouse serious concern is

      Su Su Nway, a prominent woman activist, winner of the John Humphrey Freedom Award 2006, who suffers from a heart condition.

      Min Ko Naing, leader of the 88 Generation Students group, is reported to be at risk of losing the sight of one eye because of an infection that the prison authorities refuse to allow to be properly treated.

      Another member of the 88 Generation Students group, Hla Myo Naung, and NLD member Than Lwin are also suffering from eye infections, according to Tate Naing.

      Than Lwin, who won his constituency in the 1990 election, was attacked by pro-junta thugs wearing steel knuckledusters in June 2007 as he returned home from a pagoda in Madaya Township, where he had been praying for the release of Suu Kyi.

      The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) says it has received lists of prisoners, including monks and nuns, who are suffering from serious ailments in Burmese jails. It called for proper medical attention for the sick prisoners.

      The AHRC also called on the Burmese authorities to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross access to Burma's prisons, under the terms of its mandate.

      The AAPP estimates that there are 1,864 political prisoners in Burmese prisons.

      National League for Democracy: Special Statement No 6/14/ 08 (Unofficial Translation)
      Tue 22 Apr 2008

      1. The State Peace and Development Council promulgated "the Referendum Law for the Approval of the Draft Constitution of the Republic of Myanmar 2008" on 26 February 2008.

      2. Chapter 5, Preparing Voting Rolls, Article 11 (D) of that law states as follows.

      "The following persons shall not be included in the voting roll.

      1. Members of religious orders;
      2. Persons who have been adjudged to be of unsound mind as provided for in the relevant law;
      3. Persons serving prison terms, having been convicted under order or sentence of a court for any offence;
      4. Persons who are illegally abroad;
      5. Foreigners.

      Chapter 6, Voting, Article 14 (A) of that law states that "Every person who is included in the voting roll for the referendum is entitled to vote".

      3. Therefore, the following persons are entitled to vote and should be included in the voting roll.

      1. U Tin Oo, Vice Chairperson and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, General Secretary of the National League for Democracy
      2. Dr. Than Nyein, Vice Chairperson (Member of Parliament-elect from Kyauk Tan Township Constituency No.1), and Dr. May Win Myint, member (Member of Parliament-elect from Mayangone Township Constituency No.2) of the NLD Rangoon Division Organizing Committee
      3. U Than Lwin, Vice Chairperson (Member of Parliament-elect from Maddayar Township Constituency No. 2), U Kan Tun, Secretary and Daw Win Mya Mya, member of the NLD Mandalay Division Organizing Committee
      4. Leaders of the 88 Generation Students, such as Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi
      5. The persons who are being detained by the authorities according to the State Protection Act and those who are being detained without trial

      We announce hereby today that the authorities are responsible to make sure that these persons mentioned above are included in the voting roll and allowed to vote (in the upcoming referendum), according to the existing law.

      According to the decision made by the Central Executive Committee in the meetings on 11 April 2008

      Central Executive Committee
      National League for Democracy
      97B West Shwegondaing Road
      Bahan Township, Rangoon

      Residents have to cast "Yes" vote: USDA
      Kachinnews: 22-04-2008

      Members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State have been issuing national temporary identity (ID) cards (white colour) to residents in Tatkone quarter since last week to enable people to vote in the forthcoming referendum to be held on May 10, a source said.

      The USDA members collected thousands of Kyats to make the temporary ID cards. The ID cards will make residents eligible only to cast their vote in the referendum, a resident who got an ID card told KNG.

      The ID card number by the USDA is real but it can be used only during the referendum. After the referendum, the residents have to procure fresh national identity cards, a resident added.

      At the same time the authorities have ordered residents who made temporary ID cards to cast the "Yes" vote in the referendum and not to go off to other places before the referendum date, said a resident.

      Meanwhile, the anti-referendum movement by the local underground university students' organization, the All Kachin Students Union (AKSU) continues around towns in Kachin State.

      Junta's compulsive plot for pseudo-referendum - Hkahku Gam
      Kachinnews: 20-04-2008

      The Burmese military regime has been playing dirty politics to prolong its rule by replacing it with a pseudo- democratic system in Burma without the consensus of the public.

      Ibrahim Gambari, the special UN convoy of secretary Ban Ki-moon recently explained to the military regime the constructive and obligatory mandates given by international bodies for a smooth change into democracy in Burma even as it seeks approval for the draft military based constitution.

      Unfortunately no citizen was been actively granted the innate right of political cooperation in the drafting of a democratic constitution for the formation of a civil nation. Since this country has come into being under British rule upon the essence, value and principle of united Federal Union of democracy, it is the right and high time to vindicate to whom this country is indebted to -- whether the coup regime or faithful public in the process of transformation of dictator rule to civil rule in this country. Abandoning the care and help from inside and outside Burma the regime foolishly presses on with trying to legitimize its rule with the draft constitution being put to pseudo-referendum in May.

      The political philosophy of the referendum is never for the entire political benefit of a handful, a group or a party or the military regime according to Britannica encyclopedia. Rather it is to be played as a judge on the course of the proposed law, constitution, governing policy and legislation that there is another right of making civil democratic nation by the public. According to what the regime has been concentrating and stressing on the referendum, it is preplanned, prearranged, and will be enforced in terms of expression of liberty of one's wish, will and desire on that day instead.

      When I was told by one SPDC sympathizer that the regime has arranged the system of how to express one's will generally and how to count ballots particularly, it is confirmed that on the day of referendum it will be just proving one's attendance to be witnessed upon what the regime has already collected in terms of the figure, census of population from every village, town, city, state since February. As usual the regime is implementing, barrel-ballot -policy, in order to rob the entire public ballots with its gun. No civilized nation is established with the attitude and spirit of fearfulness.

      Yet that nation is built by the spirit of freedom from fear, spirit of justice, peace and liberty. Today public politics as well as a democratic system of citizens who are not afraid would be laid civil nation In Burma. Ballot comes not from regime's barrels but from the inner spirit which loves justice, freedom, and peace. Prove that those ballots comes from one's heart, spirit is most powerful than the ballot from the barrel.

      The top-down policy of the regime is once again depicted in whatever principle and business it does for legitimating the newly drafted constitution. Naturally conducting a referendum is not necessarily, the "must" and "legalization" upon drafting the constitution enforced and prescribed by the regime towards the people. Rather it is a decisive platform where the nation's conflict is to be solved directly by the ballots made by voters. From last week there has been public awareness practical programme of detailed system of giving one's will on a ballot upon the proposed constitution across Burma by respective referendum committees. By looking it seems that the referendum would be transparent and genuine as shown. Yet without knowledge of the proposed constitution made by regime how is this referendum logical for the public.

      The thing is that the public is blocked from information especially the issue of proposed constitution whether by printed material, TV and radio. Conducting the referendum without providing such materials and without thoroughly digesting the proposed constitution is really insulting the civilized public in this age. This reason it is not tolerable. Therefore democratic referendum officially declares civil virtue and civil value of the public, yet the coming pseudo-referendum is reflecting an uncivilized attitude of the regime in the midst of the civilized world. The fact is that referendum from the bottom heart of one's will shape a civil one than the top down one of a totalitarian/centralized one that leads total corruption and disintegration.

      The centralized new constitution is obviously focussed towards all regimes' ceased fire groups that make them in turn enemies of the regime. Even the KIO/A the backbone of Kachin politics has declared its non cooperation regarding the selfish referendum. The fact is that KIO/A has never committed any mistake towards the central government before as far as political issue is concerned for the materialization of democratic nation in the history. Yet the regime had completely denied whatever political proposal of Statehood has been given.

      Moreover the denial of the 19-point ethnic constitutional proposal shows the regime's policy of abandoning the democratic principle laid down by Gen. Aung San and other ethnic public leaders at Panglong. Being publicized national solidarity in Burma so far there is seen a single deed practically in such a way that regime has given its leadership since 1962. Don't dream at all that without ethnic and state federal legislation are granted in the constitution, there would be no national solidarity in this country. Indeed all this reminds of KIO/A had been denied for the solution of political problem committed by the regime, it is the prime time to find out otherwise.

      On the other hand, probably it is the situation KIO/A political platform is turned to civil and people's politics of Kachins and non-Kachins of the state. Since in the process of KIO/A politics tend to exercise at the course of KIO/A's the most powerful, Vice-president Nban La Awng declared KIO/A the revitalization of Federal Democracy as its ultimate political stand during recent 57th KIO/A armed revolution day at Laiza, KIO/A won't associate with whichever policy that encourages against such democratic principle. The current regime's politics is very radical and totalitarian like Nazism and Communism when the newly drafted constitution is concerned.

      Therefore KIO/A would stand very decisively by this time of regime neo-totalitarian-democratic system to be approved by conducting a pre-planned referendum in May. This time the regime is producing a most dangerous policy of isolated democracy and likely the regime itself is identifying another Asian state terrorist. Of course no one is breeding such danger by direct and indirect support of giving ballots in the referendum the moment one who knows who is who.

      Therefore it is the prime time to recognize and to differentiate state terrorism and not state terrorist by one's heart, intellectual, deed, spirit, and wisdom if one really love his/her future generations of this country. In this time armed groups have been turning their tendencies of trends toward democratic army who are to fight against a common enemy; state terrorist as played left wing while civil democratic group fight with non-violent political moment in every level of age currently in Burma.

      In this crucial time, KBC, the biggest Kachin body from one aspect has committed to rise up where there is just. Being a Christian community KBC members leading by theirs shepherds/pastors has obligatory to do what God is willing is right. In fact there is the Christian concept of social politics which is beyond human politics constituted in state. There is the essence of democratic concept of group of each and every member in order to stabilize the best of human characteristics.

      For meeting and resolution of fundamental human needs just society is to be formed by way of serving God faithfully. Though a handful of KBC topmost leaders play as sympathizers of the regime, God won't allow us if Christians are supportive of the regime rather than justice in this referendum. Because totalitarian based military handmade proposed constitution is arranged for the purpose of empowering a handful of the regime's political power without freedom and independence for the public rather abolish this nation in place of integration for Calvin.

      Therefore this is not the time for KBC's Christianity to commit another unforgivable sin by giving supportive ballot in this referendum. The fact that Christianity's decisiveness is for the requiring public policy rather being surrenders under state terrorist if Christian believes the mandate to be a channel of blessing even for other nation (regime). There is a word of contextual Kachin Christian theology fighting for the truth on this soil.

      It is "God won't allow/tolerate if Christian Kachin are unjustly treated by ruling ones, likewise as further implied that, "God won't allow/ tolerate if His children, Kachins commit a sin by not standing with the truth and not leading God's people in the right track specially in this referendum." This is the time for Kachin Christians to whom we worship and who our God is, whoever worships God is blessed to express the truth during this referendum.

      When we generalize the opinion upon conducting pseudo-referendum, there are mainly two groups; the supportive and not supportive one of the referendum. Majority would agree what you and I are really needed and wanted today when we talk about referendum frankly. There is no one who does not hate centralization; power comes from the barrel of the gun, the state who in turn becomes state terrorist, and the state that shapes military dictatorship.

      There is no ethnic solidarity, peace, liberty, freedom, justice in current drafted constitution, the disciplined democracy, initiated by the regime yet in civil democracy alone. The regime's plot of legitimizing the new constitution is being implemented by ways of power from barrel, money, wealth, prearrangement of ballots, by force collecting census of qualified voters since February to be included or counted as pre-ballots, counting voters under 18 as special condition from SPDC's party and other pre mischievous arrangement for the entire country to be celebrated through the regime's pseudo-landslide victory.

      Yet it is very simple and wise that expression of one will in the referendum be decisive when every voter implies the "answer from the heart" rather than a rational answer from the head alone. The principle of inner heart will revitalize and restore the Republic of Burma. There will be strategic termination for whoever lives by creating a cunning plot for its own benefit.

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