The New Government Must Respect Freedom

April 18, 2011

On the 31st of March, when the new government leader and former military commander, Lt. Gen. Thein Sein, took office in Naypyidaw, the capital of Burma, he promised a clean and good governance. This was his promise, but in practice, if he and his government do not allow various freedoms inherent in a democracy, the people will never believe that the government will bring them toward democracy.

If the government is really promoting a democratic system, they must agree to allowing the freedom of expression, political opinions, and political beliefs. They must allow the opposition parties or other political forces to analyze the government policies and its rules. First, the government should release all political prisoners or social workers imprisoned in the previous government. These political figures and activists were put in jail just for expressing their political opinions. If freedom of expression is allowed in this new government, all political prisoners must be released.

Similarly, many social activists who were working in the fields of labor rights, relief, health care, and education were arrested and put in jail for their competing activities against the previous military governments. They were working in the field against forced labour, the relief program during the 2008 Cyclone Nargis incident, and providing education for poor students. If the new government respects freedom of association and assembly and respects the rights of people for education and health care, they must release all of these social activists.

For a democratic and peaceful Burma, the new government must respect the opinions of the ethnic minority people. Ethnic people have concern for their nationality identity and territories, so the new government must talk to all ethnic minorities, asking them what their needs are to protect their national identity. The government should find a way to bring about national unity and peace in the country. If not, the democratic system will not come about peacefully.

If the government claims that they are an elected government, then they must respect all opinions from different individuals, organizations and ethnic groups.

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