Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 15:15 GMT

Burma: EU commissioner's comments undermine potential for fair elections

Publisher Article 19
Publication Date 16 February 2012
Cite as Article 19, Burma: EU commissioner's comments undermine potential for fair elections, 16 February 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f4b69b02.html [accessed 31 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

ARTICLE 19 is concerned that comments made by EU development commissioner Andris Piebalgs undermine the Burmese struggle for freedom of expression through the ballot box.

EU commissioner Andris Piebalgs, who is in Burma this week to announce €150 million in development aid, reportedly told the press that international election observers were not needed for April's by-election in which Aung San Suu Kyi is participating.

"The Burmese government banned international monitors in the 2010 general election, resulting in widespread reports of vote-rigging and electoral fraud.  Given that very little has changed – the media remains censored and between 300 and 1,000 political prisoners remain in jail – Commissioner Piebalgs should support the right of the Burmese people to express themselves through fair elections by calling for the participation of international monitors," said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

"EU commissioner Andris Piebalgs has a job to support development in a repressive country devoid of accountability and with a government that has left the Burmese people amongst the poorest in Asia. The last remaining international checks on the democratic nature of this government are needed now more than ever," she added.

The last time Aung San Suu Kyi was permitted to take part in elections in 2003, her motorcade was attacked by a government-aligned militia resulting in the death of 70 of her campaign team – known as the Depayin Massacre.

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