The National League for Democracy’s (NLD) decision to not register as a political party in the upcoming sham elections in Burma has resonated with people in Burma as well as the international community. The census on the ground is that many people and political organizations support the NLD’s decision to boycott the unfair and unfree elections, and hope that the party will continue its mission against all odds to bring freedom and democracy to Burma.
In The Irrawaddy, a student was quoted saying it was a good decision for the NLD to boycott the election “because the Burmese regime is just trying to legitimize itself, but there will be political crisis in the country.” A 70-year-old teacher told the Irrawaddy “It’s sad, but the people will not forget Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s party.” Meanwhile, some people who expressed dismay over the possible dissolution of the NLD as determined by the undemocratic election laws
Leaders of ethnic minority parties have also shown their support and commitment to the NLD’s decision. Aye Thar Aung, the secretary of the Arakan League for Democracy, said that they were satisfied with the NLD’s decision because the ALD already decided early on not to participate in the sham elections. The Shan State Army-South, Palaung State Liberation Front, and Karen National Union all welcomed Suu Kyi’s party’s decision.
Co-founder and senior member of the NLD, U Win Tin, who spent 19 years in prison, spoke with hope to the Democratic Voice of Burma today, saying that even though “we know we are marginalised and our party cannot exist, we are going to go around the country and work for the people.” Even when the NLD ceases to exist as a legal organization, he said that the members will still work with other organizations, democratic and minority groups, international leaders and with the people of Burma to continue the NLD’s mission. U Win Tin also wrote to the Washington Post, saying that expelling Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners from the party in order to register was out of the question. “Without them, our party would be nothing. They are in prison because of their belief in democracy and the rule of law…Our objective is to reject this sham constitution and create one that will guarantee democracy, human rights, justice, the rule of law and equality among all ethnic nationalities through an all-inclusive, genuine political dialogue. We cannot pledge to obey the sham constitution. True democracy cannot come from this process.”
In light of the NLD’s latest move, many are now calling upon the international community to increase pressure on the Burmese junta. Aung Din, executive director of U.S. Campaign for Burma, in his press release yesterday, stated that “the United Nations must intervene in Burma right now. It should reject the regime’s election. It should apply effective pressure on the regime to release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi and start a meaningful political dialogue [with the opposition groups and ethnic nationalities].”