Donors Must End Support to Myanmar’s Racist Election Commission

The international community must pressure Myanmar to end the blatant discrimination that is excluding Rohingya candidates from standing in the upcoming general elections, the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) said today.

At least six candidates from Rohingya-led political parties have been disqualified from standing in the elections just in the last week. Rohingya in Myanmar are also effectively denied their right to cast their votes in the election, which is scheduled for 8 November.

The Union Election Commission receives significant support from international donors, including the EU, Norway and UK. It is implementing racist and discriminatory policies to exclude the Rohingya.

“The efforts to disenfranchise Rohingya is another part of the genocide against us in Myanmar. By denying us both the right to vote and to stand in the election, Myanmar are again blatantly trying to erase our identity,” said Tun Khin, President of BROUK.

“The international community is not just standing idly by and pretend that this is a genuine democratic process, they are even funding the Union Election Commission which is implementing this discrimination. The world must condemn Myanmar’s attempts to further disenfranchise the Rohingya people and stop funding organisations which implement genocidal policies.”

“Everyone in Myanmar, regardless of their ethnicity or religion, must have the same opportunity to contest in elections. Myanmar should immediately end all oppression against Rohingya and grant us citizenship in our home country.”

On Monday 17 August, officials from the Myanmar Election Commission rejected the candidacy of four Rohingya men, while two other candidates were disqualified last week. Myanmar claims that the candidates were rejected because their parents were not citizens at the time that they were born.

In total, at least ten Rohingya candidates have applied for candidacy with the Election Commission. Rohingya candidates have contested elections in Myanmar for decades, including after Myanmar effectively stripped Rohingya of citizenship through the 1982 Citizenship Law.

Rohingya candidates stood in the 2010 elections, and three Rohingya served as Members of Parliament as late as 2015. In 2015, however, the government abruptly excluded Rohingya from taking part in elections, running for office or casting votes. As a result, roughly 1.7 million Rohingya – including the 600,000 still in Rakhine State – will be unable to cast their ballots in November.

“My grandfather was a parliamentary secretary in Myanmar. We have voted in this country, our home, for decades before the government decided to exclude us in 2015. Many Rohingya supported Aung San Suu Kyi in the last election, but  discrimination and genocidal policies have only worsened since the National League for Democracy took office,” said Tun Khin.

“The world must wake up to what is going on in Myanmar. International donors and governments have ignored UN experts’ call to review election support if Rohingya continue to be excluded. They should under no circumstances offer support that could be seen as legitimising the electoral process, but instead call it for what it is – part of the genocide.”

For more information, please contact Tun Khin +44 7888714866.

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