Burma's Junta Resorts To Fear & Intimidation Tactics
As a means to remain in power, Burma’s government which is a military junta has resorted to a combination of fear and intimidation tactics. Such methods and actions taken by Burma’s junta give clear indications and signs of the use of intimidation tactics let alone very harsh intimidation tactics. In short, it is similar to China’s crackdown on the demonstrations in Tibet.
So far, the both soldiers serving and civil servants have been ordered to vote for the charter. This is a new constitution in which if and when passed, Burma’s junta will remain in control of the country. However, there is no ‘No’ vote on the ballot. That would mean that the referendum for the new constitution will be passed regardless.
If there’s only a ‘Yes’ vote on the ballot, one could simply opt out of voting. But, that is not the case in Burma.
In a sense, this mirrors what had happened in Iraq before. The people of Iraq were forced to vote as there was only the name of Saddam Hussein on the ballot. Hussein had won 100% percent of the vote during the 2002 elections. However, he was the only candidate on the ballot.
With the situation in Burma, the order does not extend to just soldiers and civil servants. The junta has even threatened to kick students out of school if they voted against the charter. So far, opposition activists have been arrested. Foreign monitors are also banned from the voting. This is a clear sign of intimidation tactics and a clear defiance of the international community.
In the previous year, Burma was under the scope of the international community as the junta cracked down on pro-Democracy demonstrations. The death toll has been disputed by the demonstrators and the junta. This does mirror what has happened in Tibet between the pro-independence protesters and the Chinese government. Also, Buddhist monks led demonstrations in both countries.
In addition, the media is controlled by the junta.
Under this charter, the military will forever play a role in Burma’s government. In addition, any Burmese citizen that marries a foreigner is forever barred from running for office in the country. This could be viewed by the international community as an attempt to keep Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy Party from getting into power.
Aung San Suu Kyi is a Nobel peace laureate and a recipient of the US Congressional medal. She married Michael Aris, a lecturer from Cambridge.
Legally, Suu Kyi was supposed to have taken power in 1990 as the party won the election. It was the last election held in Burma, ever since. The junta refused to acknowledge the results and placed Suu Kyi under house arrest for twelve years.
These are not the only clear signs of intimidation tactics. The junta also threatened farmers that their land will be taken away if they did not vote for the charter. Military officers and officials will be relieved of their posts if a majority vote is not cast in areas under their respective jurisdictions. This gives off a clear indication of fear at a chain of command level.
Neither foreign governments nor human rights organizations across the world have weighed in on this situation yet. But, UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari had made repeated pleas for the voting to be observed by foreign monitors. However, those requests have been denied by Burma’s junta.
It is unknown when the international community will put their two cents into this matter. This could potentially be a possible debate topic in the upcoming general US presidential elections as this could play a role on the future of US foreign policy.
At the same time, this could be linked with what’s going on between China and Tibet. This could also loom as part of a PR nightmare that China will potentially face as it is set to host the 2008 Olympics this August.
In regards to Burma, the junta said made it known that the people have no choice in the matter. It’s either vote ‘Yes’ or face the harsh consequences.
Tags: Burma , Junta , Aung San Suu Kyi , Suu Kyi , Myanmar
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