[Joint statement] Myanmar: Stop the Coup, Let Election Tribunals Do Their Job

3 February 2021

3 February 2021

On 1 February, the armed forces of Myanmar (Tatmadaw), ostensibly acting on allegations of voter fraud in the general elections of 8 November 2020, detained numerous government officials, including State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint, and Union Election Commission (UEC) Chair U Hla Thein, as well as pro-democracy activists and politicians from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) and other parties.

The Tatmadaw subsequently announced that it would seize power, declare a one-year state of emergency, and install Vice-President and retired general U Myint Swe as acting president. It was also announced that new elections would be held after the state of emergency under a new election commission, which was later appointed on the night of 2 February.

The undersigned election or human rights monitoring organizations condemn the military coup in Myanmar and call for the immediate release of all detained politicians, government officials, and activists. The Tatmadaw must restore power to the civilian-led government, and seek redress of election-related complaints through the due process of law established under the 2008 Constitution.

Indeed, Myanmar’s Constitution and election laws provide a mechanism to resolve disputes in the form of election tribunals. The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which has repeatedly made claims of vote rigging and irregularities in the recent general elections, has like any other stakeholder the legal right to formally contest election results. It certainly has done so, filing 174 complaints out of the 287 received by the UEC.

Election observers were looking forward to seeing all election-related complaints and potential evidence presented and addressed in tribunal proceedings. According to our information, the UEC was about to proceed with the appointment of election tribunals when the military intervened. Election dispute resolution is an integral part of any electoral process, which rests on the fundamental premise that all sides act in good faith.

Therefore, the Tatmadaw must back down from its coup attempt and instead engage in a peaceful and transparent election dispute resolution process. The road to a fully realized democracy is long and arduous, but it is important that all stakeholders commit to upholding and protecting democratic norms. A repeat of what transpired after the 1990 general elections would mark a stark return to authoritarianism and will not be accepted by the people of Myanmar and the international community.


Signatories:

  1. Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)
  2. Association for Elections and Democracy (PERLUDEM), Indonesia
  3. Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)
  4. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
  5. Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID)
  6. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
  7. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), Cambodia
  8. Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), Sri Lanka
  9. Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Sri Lanka
  10. Citizen Congress Watch (CCW), Taiwan
  11. Civil Network OPORA, Ukraine
  12. Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0), Malaysia
  13. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community (CCFC)
  14. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
  15. East and Horn of Africa Election Observers Network (E-HORN)
  16. Elections Observation Group (ELOG), Kenya
  17. ENGAGE, Malaysia
  18. Free and Fair Election Forum (FEFA), Afghanistan
  19. Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), Pakistan
  20. General Election Observation Committee (GEOC)/Nepal Law Society
  21. Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM)
  22. Hong Kong Election Observation Project (HKEOP)
  23. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), Cambodia
  24. Independent Election Monitoring Committee (KIPP), Indonesia
  25. Jaringan Pendidikan Pemilih untuk Rakyat (JPPR), Indonesia
  26. Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), Philippines
  27. MARUAH (Working Group for ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, Singapore)
  28. Movement for Free & Fair Elections (MDDE), Sri Lanka
  29. National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), Philippines
  30. National Election Observation Committee (NEOC), Nepal
  31. National Election Watch Sierra Leone (NEWSL)
  32. Neutral & Impartial Committee for Free & Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)
  33. Open Forum for Democracy Foundation (P-NET), Thailand
  34. People Center for Development and Peace (PDP-Center), Cambodia
  35. People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), Sri Lanka
  36. Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia
  37. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  38. Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB)
  39. Tindak Malaysia
  40. Transparency International Cambodia
  41. Transparency Maldives
  42. Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA)
  43. We Watch, Thailand
  44. West Africa Election Observers Network (WAEON)
  45. Women for Social Progress (WSP), Mongolia
  46. Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP), Cambodia

[Repost] ANFREL Quarterly Newsletter – Volume 6, Issue 4 (October – December 2020)

17 January 2021

2020 Myanmar General Elections:
Election Day Peaceful, Orderly

The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) congratulates the people of Myanmar and all those who made the 2020 Myanmar General Elections a success despite difficult conditions. ANFREL found that the Election Day was peaceful and orderly across Myanmar with no major incidents reported.

As the polls were held amid the COVID-19 pandemic, health guidelines were imposed and were observed to have been implemented well, although social distancing could not be implemented in many locations because of large crowds and/or lack of available space.

ANFREL mounted an international election observation mission to Myanmar’s 2020 general elections with 13 long-term observers and eight short-term observers with additional Election Day observers, a core team based in Yangon, and four electoral analysts.

Download the interim report and the rest of this newsletter here.


[Repost from ANFREL] Hong Kong: Stop Intimidation and Threats Ahead of Legislative Council Elections

22 July 2020

The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) is alarmed by the quickly deteriorating election environment in the run-up to the Hong Kong Legislative Council elections scheduled for 6 September 2020.

The new National Security Law that came into effect on 30 June has exacerbated a climate of fear in Hong Kong’s electoral democracy. The law’s ambiguities in criminalizing secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces with sentences going up to life imprisonment has given the authorities sweeping powers to clamp down on civil liberties and human rights[1].

Several pro-democracy groups advocating for greater autonomy and self-determination, such as the Hong Kong National Front, Studentlocalism and opposition party Demosistō[2], have since chosen to either disband or relocate abroad over fears of political imprisonment. Activist and former lawmaker Nathan Law has also fled Hong Kong[3] and subsequently withdrawn from the pro-democracy camp’s primaries. Other opposition members are facing an uncertain future ahead as the Beijing-imposed law has empowered authorities to disqualify candidates from running in the election[4].

The authorities have used the new legislation to threaten the organizers of the 11 and 12 July primaries designed to select pro-democracy candidates to the 6 September legislative elections. Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang claimed the participation in the primaries may violate the National Security Law[5], while Chief Executive Carrie Lam declared that the coordinated effort by democrats to win a majority in the legislature to oppose government policy “may fall into the category of subverting the state power”, an offense under the new law[6].

On the day before the primaries, district councilors and a pro-democracy shop faced intimidation attempts to warn them not to use their premises as polling stations[7]. The Hong Kong police also raided the office of the primaries’ co-organizer Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI), accusing the organization of “dishonest use of a computer”[8].

Despite overt intimidation, the two-day primaries saw a high voter turnout, with over 600,000 Hong Kongers casting ballots in the process. It is commendable that the people of Hong Kong are showing their resilience and determination to resist democratic regression.

The instillation of fear using the National Security Law did not stop after the primaries. Both Hong Kong Liaison Office[9] and Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office[10] have issued strong-worded statements to accuse the primaries of violating the National Security Law. The Electoral Affairs Commission also claimed the primaries are not part of the electoral procedures and reminded the public to take heed of the National Security Law when organizing and participating in election-related activities[11].

The National Security Law is the latest development in a year-long crackdown on protesters, activists, and opposition forces in the territory. In November 2019, authorities conducted a two-week siege on the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University[12], culminating in over 1,100 arrests in a single day[13]. On 18 April 2020, police arrested 15 prominent activists[14], including publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai and founder of the Democratic Party Martin Lee, in what was perceived as a hardening of the authorities’ position towards the pan-democracy camp.

ANFREL condemns the sustained intimidation and threats towards the city’s democracy advocates, citizens, and civil society by the authorities of Hong Kong and Beijing. Avenues for debate and constructive dialogue have been steadily restricted, ensuring that the environment prior to the Legislative Council elections can be considered neither free nor fair.

We call for an immediate repeal of the National Security Law, which violates the spirit of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and Hong Kong’s Basic Law and stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers in their pursuit for democracy, attachment to fundamental freedoms, and demands for free and fair elections. We call on the government of China to honor its international commitments and stop encroaching on Hong Kong’s autonomy, rights, and tradition of democratic governance.

[1] https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/06/09/hong-kong-rights-under-attack-anniversary
[2] https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3956221
[3] https://hongkongfp.com/2020/07/02/breaking-democracy-activist-nathan-law-says-he-has-fled-hong-kong/
[4] https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3091433/national-security-law-facing-disqualification-or-worse-hong
[5] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/14/hong-kong-primaries-china-declares-pro-democracy-polls-illegal
[6] https://hongkongfp.com/2020/07/13/democrats-plan-to-win-legislative-majority-to-oppose-govt-policy-may-be-illegal-under-security-law-says-hong-kongs-lam/
[7] https://hongkongfp.com/2020/07/11/hong-kong-primaries-pro-democracy-shop-scraps-polling-station-plan-as-govt-warns-district-councillors/
[8] https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/raid-07102020105020.html
[9] http://www.locpg.gov.cn/jsdt/2020-07/13/c_1210700891.htm
[10] https://www.hmo.gov.cn/xwzx/xwfb/xwfb_child/202007/t20200714_22007.html
[11] https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202007/14/P2020071400889.htm
[12] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/29/world/asia/hong-kong-protests-polytechnic.html
[13] https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Hong-Kong-protests/Hong-Kong-arrests-mount-to-1-100-as-campus-siege-continues
[14] https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3080529/least-12-hong-kong-opposition-veterans-arrested-police-over

Download the full statement here: Hong Kong: Stop Intimidation and Threats Ahead of Legislative Council Elections