Toward Democracy, Human Rights and Federalism

Thursday, February 2, 2012

NLD Special Announcement 1/2/08

Friday, February 22 2008, 09:29 AM EST
Being a member of the United Nations, Burma is obliged to follow UN resolutions, advices and suggestions. Regardless of the situation, the National League for Democracy will continue to cooperate with the United Nations, the UN Secretary-General, and the UN Special Envoy.

Unofficial Translation by the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
National League for Democracy

No (97/B) West Shwegondine Street
Bahan Township , Rangoon
18 February 2008

The 12th waxing moon of Tabodwe, 1369 Burmese Era

Special Announcement No 1/02/08

The State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) (now the State Peace and Development Council, SPDC) issued Declaration No 1/88 on 18 September 1988, stating that it was taking over the state power to carry out four "duties". In the same declaration, the SLORC pledged to the monks and the lay people that the holding of a multi-party general election would be its final duty.

Furthermore, the commander-in-chief of the Defense Services said on 23 September 1988: "... since our organization, formed with members of the Defense Services, has also pledged loyalty to the nation, I believe that it will never renege on the promise it had given to the nation and the people. ..."

The SLORC (now the SPDC) also passed Law No 14/89 or the "People's Assembly Elections Law" on 31 May 1989. Section 3 of that law states:

"The Parliament shall be formed with representatives elected from the constituencies in accordance with this law.

The international community also acknowledged that the election held in Burma was fair and free.

Furthermore, speaking to local and foreign journalists on 5 July 1989 (5-7-89) the commander-in-chief of the Defense Services clearly said that the military cannot draft the constitution because it was not an elected entity:

"... draft the constitution? We are not elected representatives, why should we draft it. Are you trying to make culprits out of us? Do not do that. ..."

At the coordinating meeting of the State and Divisional State Law and Order Restoration Councils held at the Army Commander-in-Chief Operations Room on 3 July 1990, the Commander-in-Chief once again made the following promises to the nation:

"... What will we do after the elections? We must draft the constitution. I have touched on the matter in my speech on 5 July 1989. I have said that the State Law and Order Restoration Council will not draft it. We do not intend to become any wrongdoer in history. ..."

"... The drafting of the constitution is a matter that must be done by the elected representatives from the political parties...

Again, in order to strengthen the People's Assembly Elections Law, Paragraph 12 of Order No 1/90 released by the SPDC on 27 July 1990 said: "Section 3 of the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law provides that 'The Parliament shall be constituted with the representatives elected' from the constituencies in accordance with this law and the SLORC will take measures for summoning the Parliament in accordance with this provision."

Hence, it is the responsibility of the authorities to convene the Parliament with elected representatives in accordance Section 2 of the People's Assembly Election Law as well as Section 12 of SLORC's Order No 1/90

Also, Paragraph 20 of Order No 1/90 clearly states that:
"... under the present circumstances, the representatives elected by the people are those who have the responsibility to draw up the constitution of the future democratic State..."

Paragraph 21(B) of Order No 1/90 affirms that in the interim period before a government is formed in accordance with a new firm constitution drawn up according to the desires and aspirations of the people, the SLORC will defend and safeguard --

"(b) The first three of the following four main tasks of the SLORC mentioned in Declaration No 1/88-- the prevalence of law and order and the rule of law, regional peace and tranquility and ensuring safe and smooth transportation and communication, and easing the food, clothing and shelter problems of the people, and the holding of the Multi-Party Democracy General Elections (The exception being the last task -- the holding of the Multi-Party Democracy General Election)."

Hence, there is no room for doubt that for the military authorities the holding of the 1990 Multi-Party Democracy General Election should be the last responsibility of its kind.

Under Section 2 (A) of the Substitution of Expressions Law of 1997, the "State Law and Order Restoration Council" was substituted with the name, "State Peace and Development Council", and hence, SPDC is legally required to continue carry outing all the tasks that the SLORC had been undertaking.

However, until today the SPDC has not been fulfilling its legal obligations. Even before a genuine dialog could take place, it unilaterally announced under Announcement No 1/2008 on 9 February 2008 that the "Approval of the Constitution draft will be sought in National Referendum to be held in May 2008" and under Announcement No 2/2008 that "in accordance with the forthcoming State Constitution, the multi-party democracy general elections will be held in 2010". The authorities are duty bound to first explain to the voters how they view the 1990 election result and the reason why they adopt such an attitude toward it.

Studying the two announcements, it is apparent that the authorities did not follow standard procedures. In the case of Announcement No 1/2008, the draft state constitution which needs to be approved should have been made public first and the Referendum Law under which the constitution must be approved enacted. They should have been done by the time the announcements are released so that people can study the draft constitution and make their decisions.

In the case of Announcement No 2/2008, a new election was announced even before the draft state constitution is approved. Besides, the draft state constitution under discussion was not drafted by representatives elected by the people as required under Order No 1/90 but by the State Constitution Drafting Commission which is mainly composed of people who attended the National Convention -- only one percent of the delegates were elected representatives -- which laid down the "basic principles" and "detailed basic principles" based upon which the constitution was drafted.

Even though national newspapers carry slogans daily about "the emergence of the state constitution" being "the responsibility of every citizen", the authorities did not create conditions that were necessary for the citizens to actively and enthusiastically participate in the constitution-writing process. Moreover, no opportunity was made available to the other people, including elected representatives, whose concerns are directly linked to the constitution-drafting process.

On 7 June 1996, the authorities promulgated Law No. 5/96 or "The Law Protecting the Peaceful and Systematic Transfer of State Responsibility and the Successful Performance of the Functions of the National Convention against Disturbances and Oppositions", and imposed tough restrictions under that law. As long as this law is in place there can be no fair and free referendum.

Hence, Announcements 1/2008 and 2/2008 released by the authorities completely contradict the authorities' own Pyithu Hluttaw [People's Assembly] Election Law and Order No 1/90 and they also run counter to the promises given to the monks and the people. It amounts to ignoring the will of the constituents, including Defense Services personnel, and by doing so the authorities are showing a disregard for the overwhelming wish of the entire nation. It also is a violation of the democratic rights of the people. A democratic nation can never be established in this way. The reason the National League for Democracy was formed in accordance with law is to restore human rights and democratic rights in Burma .

The announcements by the authorities take no heed of the resolutions, advices, demands, and suggestions by the United Nations and other international institutions. They disregard the point raised in the Presidential Statement of the UN Security Council on 11 October 2007, which states: "The Security Council stresses the need for the Government of Burma to create the necessary conditions for a genuine dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all concerned parties and ethnic groups..."

For this reason, after the announcements were released by the authorities, the UN Secretary-General made a statement on 11 February, saying: “I renew my call to the Burmese authorities to make the constitution-making process inclusive, participatory and transparent in order to ensure that any draft constitution is broadly representative of the views of all the people of Burma ”.

Being a member of the United Nations, Burma is obliged to follow UN resolutions, advices and suggestions. Regardless of the situation, the National League for Democracy will continue to cooperate with the United Nations, the UN Secretary-General, and the UN Special Envoy.

It is hereby declared that the authorities who unilaterally made the decisions to release the announcements must bear full responsibility for the exacerbation of political, socioeconomic, and other difficulties, the stalling of substantive political dialog and desperately needed national reconciliation in the country, the disruption of peace and stability, the decline of Burma's prestige in the eyes of the world, and other unwanted consequences.

As per the decision taken at the Central Executive Committee Meeting of 15 February 2008

Central Executive Committee
National League for Democracy

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