The Global Digest



Campaign

National elections, Northeast shows the way

Special Contribution
By Nava Thakuria

Mizoram elections of Northeast India

Once a land of separatist insurgents, their supporter-sympathizers and many journalist- intellectuals promoting anti-India propaganda, the northeastern region (commonly termed as Northeast) this time has marked a rare achievement of peaceful polling with echo-friendly campaigns resulting over 80 percent turn-out during the general elections of India, where the national average usually remains within 70% polling.

The region comprising eight States and surrounded by many foreign countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet (China), Myanmar and Bangladesh, witnessed three phases of polling on 11, 18 and 23 April 2019 where hundred thousand electorates exercised their franchise to send 25 representatives to 17th Lok Sabha, the lower house of Indian Parliament.

The largest democracy on Earth went for seven-phase national elections starting on 11 April, where over 900 million voters will participate in the electoral exercise through electronic voting machines (EVMs) supported by the voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) mechanism till 19 May to elect 543 representatives to Lok Sabha. Conducted by the world’s most powerful electoral institution, Election Commission of India (ECI), the unique experience for the human race will unveil winners on the counting day (23 May) paving ways to rule the one billion-plus nation for next five years.

After completion of its term in office, the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking fresh mandate from the electorate. The NDA nominees in the polls are primarily facing candidates belonged to the opposition Indian National Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). The third front, a loose coalition of some regional political parties across the country (termed as Maha Gatbandhan), is also expected to challenge both NDA and UPA candidates in selective Parliamentary constituencies.

In the last general elections, projected Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi did almost a magic that helped the nationalist party to win absolute majority with 282 seats in the Lok Sabha. NDA’s total tally increased up to 336 (out of the 545, where two are nominated members) in the 2014 national polls. However, the oldest party that ruled the populous south Asian country for over five decades since 1947 shrank to 44 seats in the house of people’s representatives. For the Congress understanding there is no Modi wave this time, but the saffron party claims it exists as undercurrents.

BJP’s aggression to once disturbed Northeast that supported over 30 active separatist armed outfits routed the Congress from any government in all eight States (provinces). Till 2014, the Congress used to rule States like Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Now all the States including Tripura and Nagaland are ruled by ether BJP or its allies. Sikkim continues to be ruled by regional party Sikkim Democratic Front, which is an ally to NDA.

BJP president Amit Shah claims that his party along with allies will win over 20 seats from the region, even though the Congress has not made any such claim out of the national polls. The Congress is expecting electoral benefits from the most debated citizenship amendment bill (CAB), which was brought by the BJP leadership and witnessed sharp reactions from most of the northeastern ethnic groups.

Successfully passed in the Lok Sabha on 8 January, the CAB was scheduled for Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Indian Parliament so that it could be sent to the President for necessary endorsements. But it was not pushed forward by the BJP leadership as they had no majority in the Council of States. Thus the initiative to amend the citizenship law, even after repeated declarations, was lapsed with an embarrassment to the Hindu-centric party.

Other political parties namely All India United Democratic Front, All India Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), National People’s Party, Mizo National Front etc also opposed the saffron plan to pave ways for granting citizenship to persecuted religious asylum seekers from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who had entered in the country on or before 31 December 2014. Everyone now expects electoral benefits out of the CAB row.

Even when the Brahmaputra valley was rocked by numerous anti-CAB protest demonstrations, various separatist elements tried their best to instigate the people against the government. Shockingly a section of media personalities along with intellectuals in Guwahati went on capitalizing the atmosphere in favour of banned separatist militants. Joining of few Assamese youths in the United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent) during the period was reported as an instant implication of anti-CAB sentiments.

For records, over 25 Guwahati based editors signed a memorandum opposing the CAB and submitted to Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal to pursue with the BJP’s central leadership to withdraw the bill, which was criticized as anti-Assamese (Jaati-Dhangshi) in nature. BJP’s moderate face Sonowal assured that he would not do anything harms to the people of Assam and finally Sonowal urged everyone to repose faith on his authority.

The anti-CAB row emerged as a difficult task to the media fraternity of Assam as a Maharashtra based voluntary organization lodged official complaints against five Guwahati based media outlets alleging that they exploited the turmoil over CAB to help the banned armed outfits in fresh recruitment drives. Following the accusation of Legal Rights Observatory (LRO), the Union home ministry had asked the State government in Dispur to take necessary actions.

Vinay Joshi, convener of LRO in his public grievance petition signed on 14 February accused four editors namely Ajit Kumar Bhuyan (chief editor of Prag News channel), Nitumoni Saikia (editor of Pratidin Time news channel), Manjit Mahanta (former executive editor of Asomiya Pratidin newspaper) and Afrida Hussain (editor of InsideNE news portal) of propagating militant’s ideology to give them a fresh boost in the midst of anti-CAB movements.

The LRO letter also urged the ministry to ‘investigate role of suspicious Assam media outlets and their owners, their financial transactions, source of income, possible flow of funds from foreign intelligence agencies and banned terrorist groups to media owners and all other possible aspects related to it’. The letter also added that on various occasions, these media outlets had openly professed the need to take up arms against the Union (federal) government in New Delhi and broadcast propaganda videos of militant cadres.

Need not to mention that any major elections in Northeast was synonymous to violence perpetrated by the insurgents, who had been fighting for decades with demands ranging from self-rule to sovereignty. Those separatist militants earlier even dictated the people to avoid the electoral process as they asserted it as being a symbol of suppression by the colonial Indian forces. But the northeastern electorate valiantly defied their diktats and in a sustained manner they reposed faiths on the Parliamentary democracy of India.

Till few years back, dreaded armed groups like Ulfa (I) made it a habit to issue press statements threatening the electorate of dire consequences if they would prefer to cast their votes. However, lately both factions of Ulfa showed reluctances in influencing the polls. When the pro-talk faction led by Arabindra Rajkhowa made it clear that they would not be a part of the electoral process, the Paresh Barua led Ulfa (I) illustrated unwillingness over the issue. An amazing achievement for the nation after decades of insurgency in Northeast tanks to the conviction of over 60 million northeasterners indeed!

The author is a Guwahati based journalist and political commentator
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71th Myanmar Independence Day Campaign for religious freedom and ethnic rights

Jan 6, 2019

Members of All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network

We are a group of ethnics people from Myanmar based in South Korea. Our organization’s name is the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network. Today we are holding a pro-democracy and ethnic-rights demonstration in front of the Myanmar Embassy, in the event of “71th Myanmar Independence Day.

In January 4, 1948, Myanmar achieved an independence from Britain. Where many of innocent people were killed by British oppressor during colonization. Unfortunately, after independence, Myanmar is once again ruled by military oppressor. We, the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network strongly condemn the Myanmar military for crime against humanity and human rights violation. Myanmar military is even worse than British colonizer in many cases.

Although current new government promised to promote democracy, but the ethnic minorities of Myanmar are still threatened more than other sectors of the population. There are continued conflict between ethnic groups and the military along the border areas of the ethnic regions. Moreover, religious conflicts are occurring across the nation where Buddhist majority abused minority religions including Christian in a Christmas eve.

Therefore, we, the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network, demand that the Myanmar military ruler: The political issues: 1. Stop military interfering in civilian government. Remove 25 % military seats at the parliament which guaranteed by the constitution. 2. We opposed the name as another “Panglong Conference,” because it's not necessary and nor relevant. 3. Immediately cease its human rights violations and religious repression in the peripheral of the country.

The economic issues: 1. Relief the country from economic oppression. 2. Economic should be priority as similar as to the security issue. 3. Eliminate all restriction for economic development(except conflict zones). 4. Open a room for international experts(policy analysis/researchers) for the country development.

Furthermore, we ask that the government of the Republic of Korea and the international community show staunch support for the cause democracy and the end of ethnic repression in Myanmar. We also ask for a greater support for the ethnic victims from the repression and violence in Myanmar.
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Campaign on "11th Anniversary of September uprising” - Burmese anti-dictator government movement

Sep 28, 2018

Members of AEDHRN protest in front of Myanmar Embassy in Seoul

We are a group of ethnics people from Myanmar based in South Korea. Our organization’s name is the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network(AEDHRN). Today we are holding a pro-democracy and ethnic-rights demonstration in front of the Myanmar Embassy, in the event of “11th anniversary of September uprising” against military government in 2007.

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the “September uprising” which started in 2007. Where many of innocent people were killed by Myanmar military junta, including monks and activists. We, the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network strongly condemn the Myanmar military junta for crime against humanity and human rights violation.

Although current new government promised to promote democracy, but the ethnic minorities of Myanmar are threatened more than other sectors of the population. There are continued conflict between ethnic groups and the military junta along the border areas of the ethnic regions.

Therefore, we, the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network, demand that the Myanmar military junta:

The political issues: 1. Stop military interfering in civilian government. Remove 25 % military seats at parliament which guaranteed by the constitution. 2. We opposed the name as another “Panglong Conference,” because it's not necessary and nor relevant. 3. Immediately cease its human rights violations and religious repression in the peripheral of the country.

The economic issues: 1. Relief the country from economic oppression. 2. Economic should be priority as similar as to the security issue. 3. Eliminate all restriction for economic development(except conflict zones). 4. Open a room for international experts(policy analysis/researchers) for the country development.

Furthermore, we ask that the government of the Republic of Korea and the international community show staunch support for the cause democracy and the end of ethnic repression in Myanmar. We also ask for a greater support for the ethnic victims from the repression and violence in Myanmar.
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The memorial of Salai Tin Maung Oo

Press Release
Jun 24, 2018

Protest in front of Myanmar Embassy in Seoul

To build a genuine democracy and stop Ethnic conflicts in Myanmar... Today we are protesting in the front of Myanmar embassy, in memorial of our student leader - a hero ‘Salai Tin Maung Oo’ who was deliberately killed by Myanmar military junta due to his democracy and freedom movement. This is the memorial of 42th anniversary of Salai Tin Maung Oo assassination, that Myanmar’s military junta murdered him on June 24, 1976. We “All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network” are strongly condemned for the Myanmar military government’s action for that.

Myanmar is remained conflict and uncertainty of future democracy in the country. The consequence of military rule for several decades, ethnic states have no chance to administering their own region properly, there are ongoing religious clashes and ethnic wars. Therefore, we asked for democracy and our ethnic-civil rights. We demand Myanmar quasi-military government on policy issue as follow:

The political issues: 1. Admit and apology for killing Salai Tin Maung Oo 2. Stop military interfering in civilian government. Remove 25 % military seats at parliament which guaranteed by the constitution. 3. We support current government to organize “Peace Conference” with all relevant people participation. 4. We opposed the name as another “Panglong Conference,” because it's not necessary and nor relevant. 5. Immediately cease its human rights violations and religious repression in the peripheral of the country.

The economic issues: 1. Relief the country from economic oppression. 2. Economic should be priority as similar to the security issue. 3. Eliminate all restriction for economic development(except conflict zones). 4. Open a room for international experts(policy analysis/researchers) for the country development.

And we ask South Korea government and International community to support on our course of democracy movement and effort to transform a genuine democracy system in Myanmar. A freedom Myanmar can help regional and international peace and prosperity. Also we ask to support and help-out the ethnic victims in inside the country and asylum seekers around the world.
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