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Ethnic Violence Imminent as Myanmar Prepares for Election
Minority Rights Group International (MRG) warns that the elections in Burma risk increasing ethnic violence and calls on the authorities to address the marginalization of minority groups.
Laws and regulations have been implemented by the Military Junta to ensure that the outcome of the Burmese elections this weekend favors its continued rule.
Carl Soderbergh, MRG’s Director of Policy and Communications.Rigged elections cannot bring peace to Burma, nor legitimacy to a regime that uses violent repression against its own people. Minority groups have often borne the brunt of such repression, and many minorities are now completely excluded from the political process.
The country’s military canceled voting in areas of opposition among ethnic minorities in at least 312 villages, thereby disenfranchising about 1.5 million people.
The MRG warns that ethnic minorities will only undermine security if the regime continues to abuse the election to further its agenda.
Carl Soderbergh, MRG’s Director of Policy and Communications.Rather than bringing a veneer of legitimacy to the Burmese regime, the elections risk inflaming ethnic tensions, which could lead to further conflict.
Burma has a population of approximately 50 million people. It is a country of enormous ethnic diversity, containing officially 135 major ethnic groups and seven ethnic minority states, in addition to seven divisions populated mainly by the Burmese majority. More than 100 languages are spoken in Burma. Minority ethnic groups are estimated to make up at least one-third of the country’s total population and to inhabit half the land area.
The main ethnic groups living in the seven ethnic minority states of Burma are the Karen, Shan, Mon, Chin, Kachin, Rakhine and Karenni. Other main groups include the Nagas, who live in north Burma.