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.
We are pleased to share a publication published by the Penang Institute. The “Human Rights Derogations in Southeast Asian Countries during the Covid-19 Pandemic” was written by Braema Mathiaparanam(Visiting Senior Research Fellow, History and Regional Studies Programme).
The ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights has issued a statement of concern and has reminded governments to continue observing human rights during the pandemic, and that even if some rights have to be restricted, this should not be done disproportionately.
All members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have pre-existing forms of restriction on the freedom of expression and press freedom as well as censorship, which intensified in this pandemic.
It is challenging to contain Covid-19 infections while ensuring that human rights are not derogated. However, the lockdown measures imposed in some countries in Southeast Asia during the containment period became opportunities to intimidate, detain and arrest opposition party members, activists and journalists.
Countries have also taken a strict stance on fake news and disinformation, leading to many arrests across countries. Increased surveillance was also used to track threats to authority figures and the government, alongside gaining evidence on criminal activities such as drug-trafficking and money laundering.
Certain communities were overlooked in government policies and assistance especially in terms of food and supply, economic aid and information sharing. Prisons and detention centres are overcrowded, leading to more outbreaks of Covid-19 infections.
Countries have national, regional and international obligations and responsibilities that they have agreed to and breaches of these state obligations need to be addressed, especially when the actions taken cannot be justified even as emergency measures.
Covid-19 will not be the last crisis, and governments can use lessons learnt from Covid-19 to improve their responses for the next crisis and take counter-measures that also adhere to human rights principles.
1. We, the Heads of State/Government of ASEAN Member States, gathered for the 36th ASEAN Summit on 26 June 2020. Under the theme of Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN in 2020, we underscored the need to enhance ASEAN’s unity, cooperation and solidarity, economic integration, ASEAN awareness and identity, and emphasized the importance of promoting ASEAN pro-activeness and capacity in seizing opportunities as well as in addressing the challenges brought about by rapid changes in the regional and global landscape.
This report documents structural flaws that potentially prevent elections from being free and fair in Singapore. On page 22 of the report, APHR also makes certain recommendations to safeguard Singaporeans’ right to a free and fair election. These include:
Give significantly longer notice for election dates and more campaigning time to ensure an equal electoral competition and for voters to make their opinions;
Replacing the GRC system with one that ensures better respect for the principle of “one person, one vote”;
Immediately amend or repeal all laws that restrict the rights to freedom of expression, and peaceful assembly in Singapore; and
Delay the general election unless additional measures are taken to: ensure all eligible voters are able to vote, including the sick and those abroad; and ensure that opposition parties are able to campaign on an equal footing with PAP.
The annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom – the International Religious Freedom Report – describes the status of religious freedom in every country. The report covers government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies to promote religious freedom around the world. The U.S. Department of State submits the reports in accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.