Burma to stop media coverage of national elections

By October 19, 2010

Burma (MNN) — With Myanmar's election just weeks away, observers won't be allowed into the country to watch. According to reports, authorities have made it clear that the upcoming general election is not open to observers or journalists from outside the country.

The country's Election Commission Chairman Thein Soe said at a press conference yesterday that foreign observers would not be permitted into the country because Burma-based diplomats could monitor the polls, scheduled for November 7.

According to President of Vision Beyond Borders Patrick Klein, "I think they're covering up so much in Burma and they don't want outside journalists coming in and telling what's really going on inside the country."

Klein says these elections will be far from free. According to a VBB contact inside the country, "A leader of an area will have like a town hall meeting and tell the people that if they don't vote for the military government, they're going to cut off our water, our electricity, and they're going to raise the prices on everything. They'll do nothing to help our township. So we have to vote for them."

This election fraud comes on top of the genocide of the tribal people along the Burma/Thailand border. Klein says that situation is getting worse. "Just recently, another influx of refugees came into Thailand. They expect 150,000 refugees before the election. They are just wiping out a lot of the tribal people — anyone that's opposed to them."

Vision Beyond Borders is providing relief to those in need. "We recently sent a 40-foot container [into Burma] full of clothes and Bibles. If people want to give financially, we want to keep supplying rice and food to the people. There's about 1 million displaced people, even inside of Burma."

According to Klein, they're being forced from their homes for a reason. "There are tons of gold and precious gems where these people are located. The government wants to take their land, take their natural resources, and exploit them. The tribal people are saying, 'This is our land. This is our village. You can't just come in and take what you want.' So, they come in and slaughter them all."

Unfortunately, Klein believes Burma is doing this with the Chinese government's approval. "China is buying from Burma $2 billion worth of oil a year. Less than half of a percent of that is going into the Burmese economy. The majority of that's going into the Burmese generals' pockets. Over $300 million in gems are being sold to other governments."

China is also in need of electricity and natural gas. Burma reportedly plans to build hydroelectric dams to supply electricity and send natural gas to China — at reduced rates — to ensure a good relationship between the two nations.

Despite the oppression, Klein says people are turning to Christ. "It's exciting to see how the Gospel is spreading throughout the camps. A lot of these people are seeing there's no hope in Buddhism, and they're turning to Christ. See these kids? They just love Jesus. They get up at 4:00 AM, they read their Bibles, and they pray for the soldiers that killed their families."


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