A Look Into the Burmese elections, the NLD and the Rohingya.
The first thing is first we need to understand how the Burmese constitution exists and what that means for government. So by it's very nature the gov is split between military and civilian government. For example the military will take care of military affairs, by and large foreign affairs, where as home affairs fall under the remit of the civilian government. In what we understand to be democracy today - that is not democratic at all because at least 25% of the seats are not up for election, that's the first thing to bare in mind. The second thing is, is Burma now pledging democracy or is it a military junta? Clearly, what raises a lot of international alarm bells, specifically around the Rohingya issue is led by the military, but of course it's then being supported by the civilian government as well, you could then argue that the civilian government is simply giving the military government legitimacy in the international arena.
There are 315 seats up for grabs in the 425 seats in the lower house and 161 seats up for grabs in the 217 seats in the houses of parliament. The remaining seats are reserved for the military, in a sense making the military almost a coalition partner, but probably what's more accurate is that the military is kingmaker in that government. Essentially, whoever gets into power without that military, government, additional seats and legislature, the civilian government simply will not be able to pass anything through, that's the reality.
There are other multiple, ethnic parties who are not in consort with one another, they do not have unifying policies, which would then be large enough to take on the National League of Democracy, the reigning party in Burma. Burma calls itself a democracy but in actual fact it is more similar to an autocracy, in that there's only really one party you are eligible to vote for, which is NLD.
In terms of policy directives, there is no mention - in fact the very word "Rohingya" is now allowed to be used in Burma, anywhere, according to both the civilian and military government, so there is definitely no support for the Rohingya. There's no support for the other ethnically persecuted minority groups in Burma either, most of the policy directives are under the banner of economic prosperity development within the rural communities. Of course, when you're going from a virtually standing position, it's quite easy to show 20%, 30% growth in certain sectors, because those sectors simply were non existent before. That's really the campaign ticket that the NLD have used in the past.
The campaign itself was not very long campaign, it's not like how you might see being played out in more mature democracies, for example, the US elections recently, there was almost a year long campaign behind that.
Military response against other ethnic minorities is almost case by case in Burma. The Karen and the Shan have been at war, these are ethnic minorities with their own kind of ethnic armies, a battle ground has essentially been established between these minorities and the Burmese military, with that comes rules of engagement. Those rules of engagement in place, help to rule out genocide to a certain degree. However, the Rohingya are different - they do not have their own army nor are they fighting against the Burmese military, where military response against the other ethnic minorities is very much unprovoked, when looking at the Rohingya, due to the fact that they are not fighting, it's even more unprovoked. Without question, however, the Burmese government are definitely on fighting fronts with many of it's ethnic minorities.
It's impossible for these elections to be free and fair, to reiterate 25% of the seats are reserved for the military, this means they are not up for election. In regards to constitutionally, what can the government do, are they free and fair? Before the NLD came in to power, it was a military government, in that respect, it was not free and fair. With the NLD then coming in to power four years later, you would have expected to see more access and enfranchisement for more of the population, this was not the case. The Rohingya were actually omitted from being able to even vote, let alone stand, furthermore the NLD imposed a "Zero-Muslim" candidate policy, in a country that has a sizable Muslim population. The same people that were not allowed to vote last time, were not allowed to vote that time, and the next, a crucial point of a serious lack of progress. The second point to be made is that according to the UN's suggestions and recommendations led to a stipulation that the Rohingya should be allowed to participate - this was ignored. Now here is the real problem, despite that, not enough international supporters of Burma, governments like the UK, the EU government, or the US even question that or even challenging the election results, rather what you would have seen are a flood of congratulations from these governments to the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi on their victory.
Aung San Suu Kyi and her "shoddy" record, having had her Nobel Peace Prize stripped away, is still regarded as the one person who can institute change in Burma. We need to challenge this image of her being this darling of democracy in South East Asia, although some of her awards and accolades have been stripped from her, it's not enough.
A lot of governments have expressed the notion that for there to be genuine and sustainable change, now having won power, Suu Kyi will need to hold on to that power for another four years and it's now that she has the mandate for another four years, we may see some change. That's a losing game, playing the waiting game with someone who has already shown a despotic side. However, that has been the pattern of play in peacetime since the Second World War, we've seen this countless times. Until and unless there is some sort of catalyst which will look for regime change and dismantling these power structures, these types of people will stay in power. This has been the case with Burma for a long time, especially from an economic development perspective. Unfortunately, a call needs to be made by the international community, not empathetic civilians like you or me, but governments, governments in a Covid-ridden 2020 world that are looking development opportunities far and wide.
The idea that the people of Burma voting for the NLD itself was an anti-military statement, to express how tiresome they've grown toward the military just simply isn't true. The Military has been somewhat despotic for quite some time, but the NLD is responsible for essentially being a PR machine for the military. The NLD has pushed forward this image of the military being enablers of democracy and development and that image is still prevalent in the minds of the Burmese. The media remains brown, and what that means is that it white-washes and brainwashes the general public in to believing that actually, the military and the military government are good for them and to believe otherwise is deemed simply unpatriotic. We also need to understand that the hatred felt for the Rohingya has not just been peddled by the military government but it's also genuinely felt by the mass population. There is deep fear of extremists, to development to the takeover of power structures as well and that's just been added to by state operators, the clergymen and religious institutions also.