By Burma Partnership
19 November 2010
"Voters were watched closely while casting votes. It was not free. There will not be change… We were scared and there was nothing we could do".
- A voter in Shan State
Burma’s November elections took place in an environment marred by widespread violence and intimidation as the regime sought to exploit the pervasive climate of fear in Burma to ensure complete control over the electoral process. Intimidation and threats were carried out in the lead up to the elections, in order to ensure a lack of a viable political opposition and to guarantee ‘popular support’ for regime-backed parties. These threats proved to be largely successful, and when they were not, the regime often followed up the threats with repercussions. Such election related human rights violations took place across the country, but were noticeably worse in ethnic areas, highlighting the regime’s long-standing policy of ethnic discrimination and persecution. This disregard for ethnic rights has translated in heightened tension between ethnic communities and the central regime, and an associated risk of increased armed conflict in ethnic areas.