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Canada ‘seriously concerned’ about ‘oppressive’ poll backdrop

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon has expressed on behalf of Ottawa that the government was “seriously concerned” over the conditions under which Burmese elections tomorrow were being held.

dr-seinwin-pmCannon’s office issued a statement on Friday in which the minister was quoted as saying that the Conservative government of Stephen Harper was “seriously concerned that the upcoming Burmese elections, scheduled for November 7, will be held under oppressive conditions”.

The statement said: “We again call on the regime to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and to commit to a genuine dialogue with members of the democratic opposition and the various ethnic minority groups within Burma.”

Cannon’s criticism of the Burmese regime was shared by all of the three opposition parties elected to Canada’s federal parliament, who with representatives of the Conservative government, held a special press conference last week to state their concerns about the situation in Burma.

Also present was Tin Maung Htoo, executive of advocacy group the Canadian Friends of Burma, and Dr. Naing Aung, a veteran student activist from the Forum for Democracy in Burma, a coalition of Burma activists based on the Thai side of the Burmese border. The latter is in Canada following an advocacy trip to the United States.

Tin Maung Htoo said many Burma exiles and refugees would be staging rallies across Canada this weekend to protest what he termed “the sham election held under a sham constitution”.

He told Mizzima that Burma’s first election in 20 years “is an electoral farce, designed to prolong the rule of the generals and their stooges”.

“After nearly five decades of rule, the Burmese military has opted for a costume change; the generals are now wearing civilian clothes but their hands are still stained with blood,” he added.

The Ottawa-based activist did not expect much to change after the election as “this so-called parliament will really just be a giant country club for retired military officials, where General Than Shwe’s friends in the USDP [the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party] will have an overwhelming majority. The so-called elected opposition will consist of a small rump of has-beens in the NUP [National Unity Party] who were followers of General Ne Win. Meanwhile, everyone else in Burma will continue to suffer and the army will continue to wage all-out war against the Karen, Kachin, Shan and other ethnic minorities”.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 07 November 2010 01:12 )  
The Kachin’s last stand
Since October this year, Burma has been in a state of civil war, with fighting between Burmese military and armed ethnic rebels. The ruling junta started a crackdown on these armed groups.

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