Burma bans imprisoned dissidents from up-coming elections

(Mizzima) – In preparation for the upcoming national election set to take place this year, Burma’s military regime has issued a political party registration law

which severely restricts the rights of political parties.  Mizzima has received an advanced copy of the law, which the regime will officially announce later today or tomorrow.

The law bans anyone serving in jail from forming political parties or even becoming a member of a political party.  There are presently more than 2100 political prisoners in jails across Burma.  This clause effectively bars a large number of the regime’s political opponents – many of whom were arrested after the 2007 monks led popular uprising – from taking part in the election.   The 2008 sham constitution also bans anyone serving a prison sentence from running for office.

The law does not specifically mention if those under house arrest can take part.  Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is presently serving 18 months house arrest after her 3 year jail sentence was “commuted” in August last year by junta Supremo Than Shwe.  Aung San Suu Kyi however is barred from holding office under a clause of the new constitution because she was married to foreigner.  

According to the political party registration law, those who can form parties are citizens, guest citizens and those “holding temporary identity cards”.  Burma’s citizenship law does not specify what “temporary identity cards” are.  Earlier this year in Arakan state however the Burmese regime gave members of the Muslim Rohingya minority “temporary identity cards”, in a move widely seen as relating to the election.

The new political party registration law excludes anyone who has an association with “outlawed organizations” from taking part in the national election.  Many Burma pro-democracy organizations based in exile are regarded as outlawed organizations by the regime.  The “outlawed organizations” clause as its written could bar the vast majority people belonging to Burma’s democracy movement, both inside and outside the country.  The law also bans parties from receiving external assistance from groups outside Burma.

The law also forbids organizations that are presently fighting the Burmese regime with armed struggle from taking part. It also forbids parties from using property or funds that belong to the Burmese state.  The law also excludes monks and other religious servants from joining political parties.

On Monday, the Burmese regime announced that it would soon be issuing new election laws. On Tuesday Burmese state controlled media published the law for the Union Election Commission and it is expected that over the next few days the details of several new election related laws will be released. The government however has yet to announce when the election will actually happen.


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