If the suppression of the 2007 pro-democracy protests in Burma was a tragic repetition of the annulment of the 1990 electoral success by the National League for Democracy (NLD), then the run-up to the November 2010 General Election has entered the farce stage. And what a black farce it is.
Following the announcement this summer of the astrologically-approved date for 7 November, transparently restrictive legislation enacted by the ruling State Peace and Democracy Council demanded full registration of previously banned political parties within a three month window: as, all the while, military bigwigs saunter through the revolving doors into civilian political candidacy.
Despite William Hague’s tempering of his rhetoric towards the SPDC now he has become Foreign Secretary, he remains unabashed in describing the upcoming elections as a “sham” intended to maintain the SPDC’s control; as welcomed by the UK-based Burma Campaign (two members, Moe Bu and Zoya Phan pictured above with Andrew Mitchell, the International Development minister).
Thus, it should come as no surprise that the Electoral Commission has dissolved formally the NLD and nine other political parties for failing to supply registration details. It should be noted, however, that the NLD already had called the registration process for the contents of a whitened sepulcher that it was, and declined to co-operate (although a splinter group, the National Democratic Force, opposes this boycott and is seeking election).
Other aspects of the micro-managing of political dissent include forbidding the criticism of the SPDC or impugning the honour of the military (that is, political opposition), and the stipulation that scripts and recordings of broadcasts be submitted seven days in advance.
Furthermore, the nine political parties dissolved along with the NLD included several from the ethnic minority regions. Without much explanation, the Electoral Commission has announced that no participation in the General Election will be permitted in townships across such regions. (Additional details emerge of killings by brawling soldiers in Pegu, and of armed clashes in the Shan region.)
As the SPDC places tighter restrictions on Rangoon monks, I admit a guilty pleasure when I think of the monks whom I would like to see the Burma State Guard pick upon.