October 8, 2020
Today – on October 8, 2020, the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) released a report detailing electoral barriers and challenges facing marginalized populations in Southern Myanmar. The report is titled, “Without Inclusivity, No Free and Fair Elections”.
“This is the third election under the 2008 constitution. In the 2015 election, only half of eligible voters in Mon State appeared at the polling stations. The number was too low. They’ve wanted changes but why didn’t they come to vote? We’ve done this report in order to address the electoral challenges facing voters,” said Nai Aue Mon, the Program Director of HURFOM.
During the months of August and September 2020 information was collected from 129 villagers living in 30 different villages across six townships in Mon and Karen States, and from the Tenasserim Division. There were also two group discussions held in Kyaikmayaw and Thanbyuzayat Townships. Due to travel restrictions, some information was collected by online meetings or phone.
“Our main challenge for this report was COVID-19. We’re well prepared, but things didn’t go as planned due to COVID-19. We had some delays, and had to cancel 2 workshops due to travel restrictions and social distancing policies. We’ve finished this report with the contribution from the local communities,” said Nai Bnyair Ogvon, the Project Coordinator.
The report highlights electoral challenges facing rural populations, especially women, the elderly, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), first time voters, persons with disabilities, as well as people under the control of Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs).
According to the report, the most marginalized populations are persons with disabilities and those living under the control of EAOs. These communities often have no access to information related to the election, are not included on the voter list, or face problems related to polling stations.
The report calls for institutional remedies to these electoral barriers, in order to create an inclusive electoral environment for all.
The report is more than 100 pages long with nine chapters, and is available in Burmese and English.