Burmese Youth Sticking Up for the Right to Vote No

Stickers with a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi are appearing across Burma’s largest city and former capital, Yangon, thanks to the incredible efforts of a group of young activists who are braving arrest, torture, and imprisonment by distributing the materials. The stickers also carry an important message to their viewers: “It is our right to vote or not to vote in the 2010 election”.

The stickers are a part of the boycott campaign launched by the activist group known as the Generation Wave. They are highly popular in Burma and beyond for their creative outreach via art and their remarkable courage for defying the authorities. Many of its members operate both inside Burma and along the Thailand-Burma border, in Mae Sot where their headquarter is located.

To fully grasp the level of courage shown by these youth, you would need to understand that Burma is a country where there are government spies in every neighborhood, in every residential building, with police patrolling every street corner, and where every single citizen has to register travel activities with the regime. It is a place where owning a single page of literature banned by the regime is enough evidence to send you off to prison for a long time, where scores of young men and women get arrested and hunted down daily due to their political beliefs and associations. Yet despite all that, the youth from the Generation Wave are taking a risky chance to urge their fellow citizens to practice their right to vote no in the upcoming sham elections in November.

Because of their anti-regime stance and popularity among the people of Burma, the regime has labeled the Generation Wave as a terrorist organization, whose membership is illegal and punishable by a lengthy jail term. 30 of its 100 members have been arrested and are currently serving lengthy prison terms, including an iconic artist, Zaya Thaw from a popular hip-hop group ACID in Burma.

The stickers are reported to be appearing in public places across Yangon including crowded bus shelters and shopping centers.


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