Mon 21 Apr 2008
Filed under: International,News
Myanmar nationals living abroad will be able to cast their ballot in the
constitutional referendum at the end of April. Embassies send letters
telling Burmese to bring their passport to vote, but many fear their vote
will not be secret.
The fear of retaliation by Myanmar’s military regime has created an
atmosphere in which even voters living abroad are afraid to vote against
the country’s proposed constitution. In a few days overseas Burmese will
be able to cast their ballots ahead of the vote back home (scheduled for
10 May). Last week in Singapore, Japan and South Korea Myanmar nationals
received letters from their Embassies â€œinvitingâ€ them to go and vote, this
according to Burmese dissident websites who speak of an atmosphere of
intense fear among voters who would otherwise not back the new charter
proposed by the military.
In Singapore Burmese nationals were told that all those who paid overseas
taxes to the Embassy had the right to vote in the referendum and were
advised to vote â€œYesâ€. The letter said that Burmese passport holders will
be able to cast their votes at the Embassy between 25 and 29 April.
The same procedure was followed in Japan where voters were told that they
had to show their passports at polling stations.
â€œI am worried that they might make a record of me and get me into trouble
if I vote ‘No’. But I am not going to vote ‘Yes’ either,â€ a Burmese woman
in Japan told the Democratic Voice of Burma agency.
Ko Yan Naing Htun, information coordinator for the National League for
Democracy in Seoul, South Korea, said Myanmar passport holders in that
country had also received invitation letters from the Embassy to
participate in the referendum.
â€œA lot of people have said they might just cast ‘Yes’ votes as they are
worried they might get into trouble if they vote ‘No’,â€ Yan said.