Friday, 16 May 2008

Civilians shed tears at referendum results

By Hseng Khio Fah
Shan News

Some civilians in Muse, northern Shan State, had wept upon hearing results on the junta drafted charter referendum which was held on 10 May, according to local sources.

While holding the referendum, authorities had placed many soldiers around the polling stations. The soldiers wore civilian clothes with guns under their rain coats and watched people voting from a convenient distance. Among the referendum commissioners were officials from Special Bureau, Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), and Civil Services.

“People were afraid of the military’s threats and punishments. Most of them are illiterate and lack human right awareness. Moreover, they are not interested in the junta drafted charter because of the need to struggle for their livelihood. That’s why the junta got a lot of support,” said a civilian in Muse.

“Another reason they (authorities) got many Yes votes was because of support from those temporary ID card holders. Before the referendum, the junta had made temporary ID cards for Chinese citizens to support their drafted charter,” a villager said.

“Some people cried when they knew that there were many Yes votes to the referendum. We just have to continue being their slaves forever,” he added.

According to the report of the referendum commission, the junta won 72 % of Yes votes in Muse not including surrounding areas and 22 % of No votes. In contrast, there were 17,617 (66.2 %) No votes, 8,030 (30.2 %) Yes votes and 951(3.6 %) invalid votes from 18 polling stations in Namkham township.

On 14 May, Kutkhai Military Commander San Shwe Tha along with Hopang based Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 143, Commander Lt-Col Aung Myo visited to Namkham to conduct investigations on No votes, according to a source.

LIB 143 will set up a camp in Kunhai village tract, north of Namkham, as a security force, according to a villager.

Junta media announced yesterday that 99 % of eligible turned up for the referendum and 92.4 % had voted in support of the draft.

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