By Nan Paw Gay (Karen Information Center)
On the eve of Burma’s first election in 20 years, Karen villagers are frustrated at the lack of information, the increased number of government checkpoints and a distrust of the election’s objectives.
Last week hundreds of people in villages in Kyar Inn Seik Kyi Township took to the streets over a period of three days to protest against the election and other people in the region say the number of new checkpoints are designed to stop them getting to the polling stations.
Karen people in the Irrawaddy Delta say they have had no information about the elections, political parties or candidates making it impossible to know who or how to vote.
Protesting villagers in Kyar Inn Seik Kyi Township said the election is neither, free or fair. Villagers interviewed by Karen Information Center reporters said the elections are not the solution of political problems in Burma.
“The government needed to talk to the ethnic people of Burma, the political parties, including the NLD before they have an election.”
A community elder in Kyar Inn said villagers are not interested in the election.
“It’s the last day and no one has been here to explain how it will work. We still don’t know how to vote. People are concerned their vote will be ‘stolen’. Older people here say they have not forgotten what happen in 1990.”
The villager said people had issued a warning in writing and a verbal warning from the local Border Guard Force.
“It came from sergeant Saw Eh Htoo of the Border Guard Force 1023, he said if villagers went outside the village he couldn’t guarantee their safety.”
The villager elder said the BGF order was in response to an anti-election poster villagers had put on the wall of the local military camp calling the election a sham.
“The villagers disagreed with the elections so they made posters and nailed them to the army camp wall. Villagers don’t know anything about the elections because they have not received any information, but they all say that they are afraid.”