Re: Election in Burma
To: Right Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada and others
From: Gail Davidson and Paul Copeland
The G8 Meeting that Canada is hosting in June 2010 has been called, “…a tremendous opportunity to champion freedom of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) urges Canada to:
1.Ensure that the Burma elections are on the agenda for discussion at the G8 meeting;
2.Join Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom and issue a statement denouncing the planned elections in Burma as failing to meet minimum international election standards;
3.Recommend that other G8 members issue similar statements denouncing the planned elections as unfair and incapable of reflecting the will of Burmese voters.
Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom have already issued statements that, because the new constitution and election rules in Burma bar key leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD)—including Aung San Suu Kyi—from running for office, the planned election cannot be considered either fair or free. The NLD has announced a boycott of the election as a result.
The military junta has also moved to circumvent new constitutional provisions limiting military seats to 25% by having military officials resign and run as civilians. To date, we understand that more than 20 ministers have resigned from the military and that Thein Sein has applied to register a new political party—the Union Solidarity and Development Party.
In March 2010, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma, Tomás Ojea Quintana, called for an investigation of crimes committed by military leaders in Burma, noting their responsibility for an ongoing, “…pattern of gross and systematic violation of human rights.”
The Burma election as currently planned, would serve only to ensure the continuation of those ‘gross and systematic’ violations.
LRWC therefore calls on Canada to use the G8 meeting to “champion freedom of democracy, human rights and the rule of law” for Burma.