After nearly 50 years of military rule, Burma (officially known as Myanmar) held elections in 2011.
Despite the fact that the military managed to retain much of its power in post-election Burma, it was hoped that the impoverished South East Asian country was moving in the right direction.
“Media censorship was relaxed, and, if certain rules were followed, peaceful protests were allowed. Hundreds of people, arrested simply because of their political beliefs, were released. It appeared Myanmar was entering a new chapter,” says human rights group Amnesty International (AI), who made this short animated video above.
Having lost its pariah status, foreign investment poured into Burma, as did tourists.
A former junta general, who became president, even stopped by the Oval Office in Washington.
But according to AI, Burma isn’t the fairytale the authorities would like everyone to believe, and since early last year, they’ve been sliding back into old ways.
With highly anticipated general elections scheduled to be held on November 8, Laura Haigh, AI’s Burma Researcher, said the authorities are saying one thing, but doing another.
“Myanmar’s government is trying to spin an alternate reality where all is rosy for human rights, which the international community is far too eager to accept,” said Haigh.
“The reality on the ground could not be more different. Authorities have intensified a chilling crackdown on freedom of expression over the past year,” she added.
See this report about the upcoming elections below:
AI says that they know of at least 93 prisoners of conscience who are imprisoned in Burma. Most recently, two people were arrested this month for making social media posts that mocked the country’s military.
Despite this, there are great hopes for the coming elections, which are expected by the population to be conducted in a free and fair manner.
Burma’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and her National League for Democracy party are likely to do well enough in the polls to force the army-backed ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party out of power, reports the Independent.