Upcoming Myanmar election concerns UN investigator

UN rights investigator discusses situation of next month’s election in Myanmar under harsh restrictions during presentation in UN General Assembly

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

UN special rapporteur on Myanmar Yanghee Lee holds a press conference in Yangon on January 16 2014 during a visit to the country (AFP)

A United Nations right’s investigator scrutinized next month’s general election in Myanmar on Wednesday, questioning whether the election would be free and fair, as dozens of candidates were barred from running and thousands of citizens are unwilling to vote.

UN special rapporteur on rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, discussed the credibility of the election as limitations on the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association, including arrests and excessive use of force against demonstrators could drive the election into a stalemate.

"The credibility of the elections will be judged by the environment in which they are conducted and the extent to which all sectors of Myanmar society have been allowed to freely participate in the political process," said Lee.

She expressed her concerns on the situation of more than 60 Muslim candidates who had been disqualified from using their votes in the elections.

Addressing problems of migrant workers, refugees and Myanmar citizens living abroad are not eligible to stand for an election.

According to Lee, 760,000 people who have temporary registration cards mostly from Rohingya, China and India had their right to vote revoked, including the ones who were eligible to vote in the 2010 and 2012 elections.

Due to the government denying the citizenship of Rohingya Muslims, they are also banned from voting.

Lee also pointed out the human right situation in the country, despite the ongoing rights challenges, such as increased intimidation, harassment and surveillance of rights defenders.

Shortly after the presentation, Myanmar's UN Ambassador U Kyaw Tin made a statement saying that the report contains "inaccurate and distorted misleading allegations."

"This historic election should not be prejudged by inciting some minor challenges," Kyaw said.

"Myanmar is doing its best with full commitment to make it free, fair and transparent," he added.

TRTWorld and agencies