Myanmar Holds Historic Vote This Weekend
This weekend, citizens of Myanmar (or Burma) will cast their ballots in an election that could elect the opposition party of Aung San Suu Kyi – the National League for Democracy party. It would be the first government in a half century not dominated by the military, but some have concerns about whether she would be the best individual to lead.
“As Ms. Suu Kyi continues to urge foreign officials take a tough stance with the government, there is a growing sense in Myanmar’s diplomatic community that she has complicated their work, which requires relations with government and opposition. She has chided some foreign officials for embarking on development programs with the government, some diplomats in the country say. Her relationship with Washington has become particularly complicated,” writes analyst Shibani Mahtani in the Wall Street Journal.
Because she was married to a British man and her children are not Burmese, Sun Kyi is legally ineligible to lead the nation.
“In general, these elections are important because they are the first real indicator of whether the democratic transition is going to take a big step forward or remain in a quasi-civilian middle ground for years to come,” Thant Myint-U, a historian and government adviser, told The Washington Post.
The elections are being held at a time when greater scrutiny is being placed on the country’s human rights record, particularly concerning its treatment of the Muslim Rohingya, a protected group under the International Genocide Convention.
A new report by Yale Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic and the group Fortify RIghts suggests that the violence in western Myanmar goes beyond brutal ethnic and religious attacks and may constitute genocide.
The government of Myanmar has openly attempted to prevent Rohingya births, in policy and legislation and denies freedom of movement to more than 1 million Rohingya. Meanwhile, at least 140,000 internally displaced Rohingya are confined to more than 60 internment camps and authorities have effectively forced Rohingya to take deadly journeys by sea, particularly since 2012, knowing the risks of death they face in doing so.
The report concludes that there is “strong evidence that genocide is being committed against Rohingya.”
The Wall Street Journal offers some interesting stats about the election.